Enforcement of Immigration laws is mainly the preserve of the Federal government and its agencies who apply the provisions of the Immigration and Naturalization Act to regulate every aspect of a person's immigration (Ferrell, 2016). The Bureau of Immigration and Customs has less than 2000 enforcements agents who are supposed to enforce immigrations laws on about 8 10 million illegal aliens in the United States. This is a major challenge and one of the chief reasons why there are many illegal immigrants in the country.
The Federal agencies are more familiar with the Immigration Laws and have all the resources to enforce the laws and ensure there are no illegal immigrants in the country. However, local and state agencies can also assist the Federal government in the enforcement of the laws since they are more familiar with the locals who live in their areas. Enforcement of immigration laws should, therefore, occur at the local, state and federal levels.
At the local level, the major challenge to the enforcement of immigration laws is that the local police are mainly charged with the mandate to enforce criminal law. Taxpayer money is channeled towards apprehending burglars, rapists, murderers, traffic violators and the like (Ferrell, 2016). The Federal government does not provide any financial assistance to the local authorities to enforce immigration laws. This means that if the local authorities were to assist, then taxpayers funds would have to be channeled towards immigration and fewer resources would be available to fight crime and enforce criminal laws. The local citizen is more concerned about their safety and security from criminals and not on illegal immigrants.
At the state level, the state government and its local authorities mainly assist in the enforcement of immigration laws through arrests made and forwarding the illegal aliens to the federal agency concerned. This is in relation to criminal law. The violation of immigration laws is mainly a civil wrong which the local authorities have no jurisdiction over. State authorities cannot arrest an immigrant who entered the United States legally then over- stayed on their visas. This poses a great challenge as there are no clear laws that allow for arrests for such civil violations (Ferrell, 2016).
In addition, enforcement of the immigration laws means not only arrests but also investigations, preparation of cases and other functions which the state government and agencies are not trained for and lack the financial resources and manpower to enforce. Enforcement of the laws beyond arrests would require the federal government to channel funds for the same to every state which would be costly. The state governments, as I mentioned, cannot use its funds on immigration when there are more pressing criminal laws to be enforced.
As mentioned earlier, there are about 8 10 million illegal aliens in the United States. This figure speaks volumes about the effectiveness of the enforcement of immigration laws in the country. Effective enforcement of the laws would mean a reduction in the number of illegal aliens and immigrants. Even though there has been a significant increase in the number of personnel and technology at various entry points especially the U.S. Mexico border, this has not had any impact on the number of illegal immigrants in the country.
There cannot be effective enforcement of immigration laws if the laws in existence are redundant and unable to address the immigration problem in the country. More appropriate laws would mean a better immigration system. An effective immigration system requires the reform of various laws and systems that affect immigrants. Border enforcement systems should be reformed to address the various immigration issues. Interior enforcement systems should be reformed and addressed like the improvement of detention conditions and policies, the evaluation of immigration cases based on their own merits, the provision of legal information and qualified counsel for all the immigrants, allowing the immigrants to have their day in court, and the enforcement of civil rights laws and protections for the immigrants through training and other measures. Labour and related laws protecting workers should also be reformed, a move which would enable the immigrant workers to apply for work visas and be able to work legally and comply with immigration laws. They would also be of assistance to the immigration agents if they are protected. In addition, effective enforcement would require the Federal government and Congress to evaluate the impact that a partnership with the local and state agencies would have on the local communities and the immigrant populations (American Immigration Council, 2009).
In conclusion, enforcement of immigration laws should occur at all levels of government. The federal, local and state agencies should liaise to ensure that immigrants are treated fairly while in the U.S. or when facing deportation. Effective enforcement requires the implementation of various reforms in the sectors and systems that relate to immigrants. Proper laws should also be enacted to create systems that are up-to-date.
American Immigration Council. (2009). Enforcing Immigration Laws: Repairing our Broken Immigration System. Retrieved on April 19, 2016 from http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/just-facts/enforcing-immigration-laws-repairing-our-broken-immigration-systemFerrel, C. E. (2016). Immigration Enforcement: Is it a Local Issue? Retrieved on April 19, 2016 from http://www.policechiefmagazine.org/magazine/index.cfm?fuseaction=display_arch&article_id=224&issue_id=22004
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