By Douglas Massey, Boston Review (via Alternet)
May 28, 2009
This article is a response to Joseph H. Carens's Case for Amnesty, and part of a New Democracy Forum on immigration.
Joseph Carens has advanced a strong moral argument in favor of amnesty for irregular migrants in the United States. I agree with the need for some kind of legalization program and share his ethical concerns. The current immigration crisis, however, stems from deeper U.S. policy failures that must be addressed, or the problem of undocumented migration will simply recreate itself.
The core of the U.S. immigration dilemma is Mexico. Of the roughly eleven million people in the United States with undocumented status, about 60 percent -- some 6.5 million people -- come from Mexico. The next closest case is El Salvador, with around 570,000 undocumented migrants, followed by Guatemala at 400,000; the numbers drop off rapidly from there. If we deal effectively with migration from Mexico, other immigration problems become small by comparison and much easier to resolve. [...]
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