As President Obama said Friday evening, “our immigration system is broken, and everybody knows it.”
We applaud President Obama’s decision to provide temporary relief from deportation for millions of family members, neighbors, and friends in communities across the United States. While the Latin America Working Group will continue to press policymakers for a more comprehensive and permanent fix to our broken immigration system, the president’s executive order will help ensure that millions of families no longer have to live in constant terror that deportation may separate them. At the same time, we are troubled by the president’s expression of support for additional resources for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and legislation that would double the number of Border Patrol agents. We’ve seen that militarization doesn’t bring greater safety and security to border communities; in fact, the opposite is true. Instead of more boots on the ground, the Obama Administration should focus on reforms to strengthen accountability and oversight over the “nation’s most out-of-control law enforcement agency,” reining in an agency plagued by allegations of human rights violations, including unjustified shootings.
We concur with a Department of Homeland Security memo that was issued in tandem with the president’s announcement, which states that violence and poverty are still “push factors” for migration in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. However, we disagree with the implied link that the memo makes between the wave of children and families fleeing spiraling violence in Central America and any supposed lax security at our southern border. Instead of responding to the flow of children and families from Central America with more funds for southwest border enforcement, our tax dollars would be far better spent towards measures that address the root causes spurring people to flee the Northern Triangle countries—including violence prevention programs, child protection programs and shelters for victims of violence, educational and job training programs, and in-country judicial system reform.
See more on LAWG’s work towards creating a humanitarian solution for a humanitarian crisis.