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New Colossus:

An Immigration System for the People

DACA, Marijuana & Gun Control

Rachell Mosquera, Clay Cortez, Quinn Tassin

May 9, 2019

New Colossus Immigration Policy Brief

For decades, the U.S. has claimed there is immigration problem, however immigrants are

not the problem, it is the policies that has created the immigration system. These policies have

been clearly racialized and dehumanize migrant bodies posing them as a threat. Policies in past

presidential terms have focused on enforcement, detention centers, and less resources for

immigrants, asylees and refugees. In order to fix the immigration system, we propose a division

between short term and long term goals. For the short term we focus on revising DACA so

DREAMers could potentially have a pathway to citizenship and are better protected. In addition

to ending the Muslim Ban, there will be no wall on the Mexican border, there will be regulated

private detention centers, an increase in the ceiling for number of refugee and asylees and the

requirement of training for Immigration judges and officers of DHS, along with providing

translators at case hearings.

On the other hand, our long term goals consist of abolishing ICE and moving away from

private involvement in the immigration system, providing a better and easier way for

undocumented and future immigrants, refugees, and asylees to acquire citizenship, revising the
Refugee system to allow for economic refugees and asylees, reforming Immigration Court,

ending the number of years barred from the U.S., and the ending of backlogging immigrants.

Although there are several other issues concerning immigration, the main issues we put forward

have become a subject for discussion under Trump’s Administration and deserve to be addressed

and changed immediately.

Our immigration system has been broken for decades and it finally should be

progressively changed to better suit migration patterns and the needs of migrants. Lately, there

have been too many cases involving deaths and family separations of migrants trying to come to

the U.S. or are awaiting trial. The act of deportation has become more dangerous and closely tied

to ICE, an agency largely financed and operated by private companies, that has been known to

sexual abuse and racially target people of Latino complexion. Migrants, refugees and asylees

spend months or even years waiting for their trial, and live in inhumane conditions that

desperately need to be addressed. In addition, there is such negative and inaccurate discourse

revolving around immigration that needs to be corrected and can be done by fixing the issues the

U.S. has created through their past policies.

Under Trump’s administration, it has become extremely clear how he has solely

discriminated and racialized minorities and has targeted them through his policies. There needs

to be distinct and progressive laws that go against what Trump has been pursuing to ensure the

safety of immigrants, asylees and refugees here, and who are coming to America. During his

presidency, thousands of families have had their children ripped apart from them, women have

been sexually assaulted in detention centers, and people have died in these places. In addition,

Asylum seekers are being turned away, being marked as illegals when they have every right to
ask for asylum. Many are sent to Mexico to await their trial as well. DREAMers are being

stripped away from their protections from ICE and are now being targeted. The rights of

immigrants, asylees and refugees are continuously being contested in this political landscape and

it is time to reform the system that has become overtly prejudice and malicious.

This paper is organized in the following manner. First, Rachell will address the issue of

enforcement that pertains to the border, DHS, ICE and CBP. In addition to the defunding of

these enforcement practices and the redirection of funds to support immigrants. By changing the

policing of immigrants into a manner of support, the narrative surround migrant bodies can also

be rewritten. Next, Quinn will reinforce the importance of the DREAM Act’s passage, look to

the ways in which immigration courts need to be reformed, and make a proposal for a

straightforward, humane path to citizenship. Finally, Clay will propose reforming the refugee

and asylum system to allow for the consideration of economic conditions, explain how this

policy improves upon the current system, how it would benefit the economy and allow for a

more just and humane system overall.


First it should be address the way immigration policy has become centered on this idea of

“protecting” the U.S. border. It has driven U.S. immigration policy to target migrant bodies

through law enforcement, and the construction of a wall. However, border enforcement has

proved time and time again that it is not as effective as people think it is. Building a wall does

not mean unwanted immigration will stop nor is increasing funds for DHS, CBP or ICE going to

prevent it either. This is why New Colossus suggests new immigration reform should begin with

no construction of a wall, decrease in funding for enforcement and the redirection of funds to
train officers to support immigrants; and stop the funding private detention centers. We argue

that by changing the narrative behind border enforcement that immigration policy will

restructure the way it implicitly targets black and brown bodies.These policies are both short

term and long term goals with the overall target being to provide a more efficient and safer

immigration system. By utilizing a human rights narrative, it will prevent labeling such bodies as

the problem, as threats or criminals. Through restructuring the narrative it can provide a more

effective and transparent immigration system. A system that can support migrant bodies, and no

longer dehumanize them.

First, we will demonstrate why building a wall is inherently ineffective. Contrary to

popular belief, the rate of undocumented immigration from Mexico has not changed in three

decades (Massey 2007). People see changes in their culture and tie it to immigration when in

reality the levels of undocumented immigration have hardly shifted. By constructing a wall, it

does not just stop unauthorized migration instead it increases the perception of incidence of

unlawful presence and naturalizes the idea of immigrants as an existential threat to U.S.

sovereignty (Gulasekaram 2013). It is only a temporary solution to the bigger issue that are not

migrants but the overall system the U.S. created themselves. Even if the wall were to be built,

David Martin, former Principal Deputy General Counsel of DHS even stated, “Those intent on

crossing unlawfully would likely find other means of entering the U.S.” (Gulasekaram 2013).

Physically the wall only provides as an obstacle for migrants to work around. History has

demonstrated that wall built on U.S. border have been ineffective. In 1990, as part of Operation

Gatekeeper, spanned fourteen miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. That partial fence clearly

had aesthetic and optical benefits, as it tended to reduce border crossing and apprehensions in the
populated city of San Diego. But, it had no meaningful effect on actual deterrence, as it simply

pushed migration further eastward towards the Arizona border region” (Gulasekaram 2013).

However, the wall does not just have physical component to it, it provides a reasoning for

people to believe there is a threat to be protected from. It pushes the narrative that black and

brown bodies are either to be feared or hated. It provides political incentives for citizens to

pressure the national government over the immigration issue and for them to take control by

persuading them that fence building is a necessary government solution (Gulasekaram 2013). It

then steers the power away from each state and solidifies federal power over immigration. It

becomes easier for politicians to vote on a bill for a wall without analyzing the humanitarian

consequences. As stated previously, fences and wall do not affect migration flow, people will

find other ways and this has resulted in a higher death rate.

Instead of pushing humans towards death, policy should focus on the receiving end rather

than policing and declusion. Higher death tolls obviously equal lower undocumented

immigration rates but at what costs? It is also interesting those who vote on the matter have the

least amount of contact with migrants whether authorized or not, they do not see the actual

repercussions of the policies they support (Gulasekaram 2013). The policies then provide the

narrative that the government is providing safety and that they are the citizens care takers. The

physicality of a wall embeds the notion the demographic makeup and cultural moves on the

community in which they will be preserved (Gulasekaram 2013). It provides a separation of

those who are deserving (American citizens) versus undeserving (immigrants). They are being

kept out and will continue to be the inferior class who can never legitimately become part of

American society. People will continue to believe there are too many Mexicans, and that they
need to be kept out. It also gives law enforcement an easier diagnosis of unlawful presence

through racial profiling and policing and apprehension.

Besides the construction of a wall, funding for Border Enforcement has shown to be

impotent as well. The budget for enforcement has consistently grown over the decades, agencies

have began targeting specific areas and devoting more time on patrolling the border. In 2002 INS

began patrolling the two sectors of San Diego - Tijuana and El Paso - Juarez and used what they

called the “Tortilla Curtain” to stop unauthorized migration. However, migrants naturally went

around them to cross into less patrolled regions (Massey 2007). By 2002, two-thirds were

entering other points at the border avoiding the patrolled areas and finding areas they would be

less likely to be caught and coincidentally less heavily patrolled. As mentioned previously,

border enforcement also increases the likelihood of injury and death. These sections at the border

not only are less patrolled but all the more dangerous. Border Patrol has failed to decrease the

number of migrants coming in and with this population, comes an increase in vulnerability to


Rather than pouring money into DHS, ICE or CBP, the issues should be addressed head

on. We are far too into history to have open borders but redirecting where funding goes is a first

step. That significant amount of money can be used to support migrants instead of targeting and

patrolling them. A pathway to citizenship or a worker-visa program can decrease the exploitation

of this population. Along with targeting companies that have been known to recruit

undocumented workers so their incentive minimizes. Funding can go towards, providing

translators, and immigration lawyers that could help keep track of who is coming in and

eliminate this undocumented status. In addition, a better partnership with Mexican, where a vast
majority of migrants come from to work can lead to a smoother migration process where they

can be less vulnerable and the U.S can regularize their status through long term residency.

Providing safety is a key part in decreasing enforcement. People can continue to argue that

migrants are not citizens, it is not their responsibility but they are human beings. PEople cannot

claim their nation was built by immigrants without acknowledging the effects the U.S. has had

on other countries that have led to them coming to this country. It is time to take responsibility

and give reparation to the population of migrants that are exploited, racialized and have no other

means of providing for themselves or family. Patrolling will not prevent migration flow so

immigration policies should reflect that.

Moving forward, in order to avoid dehumanizing migrants, asylum seekers or refugees,

the U.S. must stop its relationship with private detention centers. This institutional private

detention center complex has been known for its inhumane conditions, assault both physically

and sexually, and death. No one should fear coming into this country and be thrown in what is

another name for a prison nor fear dying or being separated from their families. Before ICE

became the face of private detention and enforcement, their original mission statement was to

“detect and prevent terrorist and criminal acts by targeting people, money, and materials that

support terrorists and criminal networks (Neto 2006). This is not what is occurring today. ICE

keeps migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers there basically indefinitely. They are either taken

from the border, or through ICE raids in cities throughout the U.S which usually are black and

brown communities. They have not focused on their mission but instead redefine their power to

include detaining regular people. This has been done through racialization and hyper-policing.
But who really benefits? Boza states, the undocumented status of migrants provides

advantages to at least 3 groups: media pundits who make their careers railing against them,

politicians who use them as scapegoats and contractors who profit from massive enforcement

expenditures (Boza 2009). It is interesting how the media adds to this threatening discourse

because they consistently dehumanize undocumented workers and promote a message of fear

and hate that attracts views and convinces them that ICE is justified for its actions. This provides

a collective acceptance of militarization in their neighborhoods and persuades them to vote for

candidates who promise to be tough on crime (since that is inherently linked to migrants as well)

when in fact immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native born (Boza 2009). The

media also provides “fake news,” for example, on October 5, 2006, Lou Dobbs said ‘just about a

third of the prison population in this country is estimated to be illegal aliens’. This is a gross

misrepresentation of the reality – less than 6 percent of prisoners are foreign-born, and only some

of those are undocumented immigrants, the remaining being naturalized citizens, permanent

legal residents and other visa holders (Boza 2009). By minimizing migrants to criminals and

promoting a hateful discourse, it continues to dehumanize them and make them suitable targets

for enforcement. People will continue to favor ICE because they think immigrants are all

criminals when they are given false information. Even with ICE raids, there is no evidence that

they do anything to prevent more unauthorized migrants. It solely is there to make people think

their government is cracking down on undocumented immigration when there is nothing to

support it is effective. It just fuels more fear into people and perpetuates false notions.

By arresting migrants it then provides a dependency from the prison on the production of

criminals to fill the prisons in which they built (Boza 2009). Once again, the percentage of those
who are criminals are fairly low but in order to fills those spaces, ICE targets black and brown

bodies who are stereotyped as immigrants and question their presence in the U.S. If the person is

not able to provide documentation quick enough then they are taken. Politicians also rely on

these prisons in order to pass more repressive laws and vise versa. Militarization and detention

centers do not lead to the reduction of migrant flows. Coming to the U.S as someone who is a

black or brown body should not lead to being imprisoned. Unauthorized status should not equal a

criminal act nor should it lead to being help in a detention center for weeks to months. It is

inhumane to treat people as such and support institutions that do so. Funding should instead be

redirected elsewhere besides fueling an institutional complex and organization that only benefit

from racism and criminalization. Through our short and long term goals, we hope that

enforcement will decrease, with the eventual abolishment of ICE and start of a transparent

immigration system.


Politicians and pundits alike often lament that “our immigration system is broken”

and that “comprehensive immigration reform” is the way to fix it. While these phrases are

certainly helpful insofar as they are digestible, they do little to explain why it is broken or what

reform actually looks like. Here, we will examine 3 key aspects to making the process of

immigration more humane and effective: the passage of the DREAM Act, the restructuring of

immigration courts, and building a clear, accessible path to citizenship.


The DREAM Act was originally proposed in early-September of 2001 by

Senators Orrin Hatch of Utah, a Republican and Dick Durbin of Illinois, a Democrat, in an effort
to “provide undocumented youths who came to the United States before the age of sixteen a path

toward legalization on the condition that they attend college or serve in the U.S. military for a

minimum of two years while maintaining good moral character” (Odeja, Takash, 2010). While

the decade immediately following the bill’s introduction was defined by intensely anti-immigrant

policies, in 2010, the act gained momentum and seemed like it might be passed through both

chambers of Congress. Much of the rhetoric around the DREAM Act’s passage revolved around

the ways in which legal status could help to bolster U.S. interests. An Obama Administration


SECURITY, GOOD FOR OUR NATION” was released detailing DREAMers ability to

“contribute to our military’s recruitment efforts and readiness”and “cut the deficit by $1.4 billion

and increase government revenues by $2.3 billion over the next 10 years.” Ultimately, the bill

passed a vote in the House of Representatives but failed to gain cloture in the Senate. As a result,

the millions who entered the country as children that could have gained citizenship lost their

opportunity. In 2014, Barack Obama signed an executive order called Deferred Action for

Childhood Arrivals (DACA) granting protected status to approximately 671 million immigrants

but the order did not create the path to citizenship that they needed (​Ehrenfreund​, 2014).

Too often, the DREAM Act is treated as worthy of passage because it is

beneficial for the United States but we propose its immediate passage on the grounds that it is a

necessary first step in changing the immigration system. It is vital to recognize that the bill is

imperfect to say the least; it “would not help [DREAMers’] families,” “only addresses a specific

time period,” and puts immigrants without degrees or a military record at risk of deportation

(Díaz-Strong, Gómez, Luna-Duarte, and Meiners, 2010). Still though, we must pass the act as a
means of, at the very least, solving a large problem while not giving up in the pursuit of larger

immigration reform. The DREAM Act would still give the opportunity of legal status to 2

million people and help them to gain stronger economic standings in the country (Odeja, Takash,

2010). Furthermore, DACA recipients have been put in danger by the Trump administration.

Under Donald Trump’s presidency, the status of DACA recipients has been in constant danger,

with President Trump consistently using them as bargaining chips in gaining funding for a border

wall (Oprysko, 2019). While a federal appeals court ruled in favor of DACA when Trump

challenged it in court and the Supreme Court refused to review ruling, the fact of the matter is

that DACA is in danger and no matter the DREAM Act’s imperfections, its beneficiaries deserve

the security that they lack right now (Svajlenka, 2019).

Court Reform

Easily one of the largest issues facing the immigration system today is the

organization of immigration courts. According to the American Bar Association’s 2019 review

of the immigration system, immigration courts are reaching a breaking point. Starved for

resources, “we identified numerous issues hindering due process and the fair administration of

justice in the immigration court system, ranging from staffing, training and hiring issues to

growing backlogs, inconsistent decision patterns (particularly with respect to asylum

adjudications) and the adoption of video-conference technologies that impeded fair hearings,”

the report read. This could easily be read, by many, as the entire system. The negative impact of

this disorganization is clear. With all of this comes a deeply inefficient system that serves to

benefit no one who enters the country. Furthermore, the court system fails the simple moral idea

of equal justice under the law; so long as immigration courts exist under the Department of
Justice, it is impossible for them to serve without political agenda (AILA, 2018). In the Trump

administration, this has meant that judges have been reviewed by the Attorney General to ensure

that they met a certain number of adjudicated cases, or face suspension or termination (AILA,

2018). Under the current system, immigration courts simply lack the resources and independence

necessary to function as efficient

We propose that an independent immigration court be formed, separated from the

political whims of the Department of Justice and provided with the resources necessary for a

court of its kind. First and foremost, this means building up staff to a level adequate for the

number of cases seen. While the it has been argued that the level of cases taken should be

decreased to levels on par with other courts, we must recognize that such a practice would

essentially mandate that fewer immigrants were given their due process each year; if we are to

create a more efficient system, we must increase resources so that the highest number of people

are given the best trials possible, not reduce the number of people seen by judges to meet the low

level of resources. As the ABA (2019) argues, the number of immigration judges should be

increased by at least 100, the ratio of clerks to judges must be at least 1:1, and judges need to

provided adequate training and funding. We must also move to ensure that each and every

immigrant seen in court receive adequate representation. The entirely dehumanizing and

ineffective method of utilizing video chat software to conduct trials must be ended immediately.

In an egregious violation of rights, immigrants are often not afforded the right to an attorney

which, naturally, has a negative effect on their ability to perform well in court. According to the

American Immigration Council (2016), “only 37 percent of all immigrants” and “14 percent of

detained immigrants” receive council. Roughly four times as many detained immigrants were
released with representation than without and about half of immigrants with legal representation

got immigration relief where under a quarter without representation did. It is clear that an

independent immigration court is paramount to a moral and effective immigration process and

we cannot move forward in the long term without one.

Path to Citizenship

As it stands, the United States approaches the issue of citizenship in a way that is

almost entirely meaningless. While efforts were made by both the Bush and Obama

administrations to reform the immigration system, both not only came up short, but actively

increased immigration enforcement. Even the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s 2019 budget

proposes “comprehensive immigration reform” and its economic benefits without explaining

what that reform looks like. Because of the passive treatment of immigration in Congress, the

path has been opened for anyone who cares to to further oppress the country’s immigrant

population. Under the Trump administration’s proposed xenophobic policies, immigration would

be greatly reduced while enforcement would see massive increases (Gelatt, Pierce, 2018). Under

his proposal, the ability to petition for family members would be lost in a massive blow to a

population that makes up 59% of Green Card holders (Gelatt, Pierce, 2018). His proposals go

even further than reducing immigration, scrapping the diversity visa lottery and proposing

allowing people into the country based on “merit” which corresponds with education level and

occupation (Gelatt, Pierce, 2018); while Obama proposed an “earned” immigration program,

earning it meant not being a criminal and passing a civics test, a far cry from the actively classist

and racist system that his successor is working to establish (The White House, 2013). Because of

the illegal status attributed to so many, a number of immigrants lack the autonomy to fully
participate in structures in the communities and the country in which they reside; this status

hamstrings their capacity to experience social and economic opportunity that they, as human

beings, deserve (Hiemstra, Mountz, 2015).

We see immigration as something that, while still in need of some regulation,

should be far more open and accessible to people no matter their background. The immigration

policies detailed above are untenable and inhumane. We do need comprehensive immigration

reform but we also need to redefine what that reform looks like. The strategy for creating a

stronger immigration process is two-pronged. The first has to do with our capacity to take on

new migrant populations. While popular rhetoric posits that there are too many immigrants, the

fact of the matter is that we can admit far more people per year than we currently do. Despite the

sentiment that we are a “nation of immigrants,” the population is only 13.5% where Canada’s is

20% (Dalmia, 2019). Keeping in mind that we are one of the largest countries in the world, this

means that there are millions that could have been granted citizenship but have not received it. It

is vital that we increase the number of immigrants admitted to the country per year to

percentages on par. We must also create a pathway to citizenship for the massive number of

currently undocumented immigrants that currently reside in the country so that we meet the

levels other wealthy nations. A recent Pew Research study found that there are just over 10

million undocumented immigrants currently residing in the country, though some have reported

numbers as high as 30 million (Passel, Cohn, 2018). A process has to be developed for these

people to be provided with the resources to obtain green cards and later become citizens of the

United States. This must also occur without the 3 and 10 year bans that some have proposed

which would force people to return to their country of origin for certain amounts of time before
re-entering the country. This process would consist of the same criminal background checks,

civics tests, and biometric data input, that all new citizens must go through, but would do away

with the fines paid for undocumented residence. It makes little sense to give a financial penalty

to people who are often taken advantage of economically and who, by all accounts, serve to help

enrich the economy rather than hurt it (Mathema, 2015). Ultimately, it should be clear that we

have to build an immigration system that works for immigrants, not against them. That means

making it accessible and efficient, and taking increased immigration enforcement off of the table.


Our proposed policy would modernize and reform the current refugee and asylum

system, ensuring our country stand up to it’s principles of ensuring liberty and the pursuit of a

happiness for all, by leading the international community in creating a more humane process for

seeking refugee and asylum status by allowing for extreme economic conditions to be grounds

for both statuses. This reform would begin to correct injustices in the current system, granting

greater opportunity for applicants to access the help they need, while also ensuring greater

security and safety for all.

The refugee and asylum system as it stands currently, is flawed. Under the Trump

administration the pathway for seeking asylum has tightened, as the ceilings for refugee and

asylum seeker for 2019 falls at less than a third of the average ceiling over the last thirty years

(Lind, 2018), citizens of select Muslim countries have been temporarily barred seeking refugee

status (​Exec. Order No. 13769, (2017)​), USCIS offices abroad have been closed and staff have

been cut ​(​Robbins & Jordan, 2018​) ​that conduct interviews and screenings for refugee applicants
(Jordan, 2019). The system is also deeply flawed in that decreased opportunity for refugee

seekers and deep backlogs in immigration courts (where many asylum seekers and

undocumented immigrants find themselves) (Lou & Watkins, 2019), coupled with a lack of

guaranteed legal representation for either, makes seeking safety a resource based game. Even

worse is the fact that those that are able to afford counsel are exponentially more successful than

those without (as asylum seekers are four times more likely to be released from custody, and

undocumented immigrants are eleven times more likely to even seek asylum in the first place

(Eagly & Shafter, 2016), pointing to the fact that the inadequacy of our current system is what is

standing in the way of people who could qualify for asylum and refugee status.

In contrast, our proposed policy would be more effective procedurally, and in ensuring

applicant’s welfare, and giving them a much fairer shot, it would insure greater security for the

nation as a whole, and even save the country and tax payers money.


In determining the cost benefit of our policy proposal, we will first analyze the financial

burden of refugee and asylum seekers under the current system, to understand what effect

expansion might have. Next we will look at the financial impact of undocumented immigrants,

under the assumption that more undocumented immigrants would be able to apply for asylum

status under our proposal (See the “Effective” section).

Experts have affirmed refugee and asylum seekers as beneficial to the American

economy time and time again. As recently as 2018 a leaked report from the Department of

Health and Human Services found that refugee and asylum seekers contributed a net fiscal
benefit of 63 billion dollars over the last ten years (U.S Department of Health and Human

Services, 2017), with the average refugee contributing more to the government in taxes than they

receive in benefits within five years of their resettlement ​(NY Times)​. Possibly even more

importantly to the average voter, refugee resettlement within a locality has a negligible effect on

the wages and employment of native workers (U.S Department of State, 2017).

On the undocumented side, experts suggest that contrary to popular belief, undocumented

immigration is not a financial burden to the United States, having little to no economic effect

overall (Hanson, 2015). Undocumented immigrants contribute to their state via property ($3.6

billion), income ($1.1 billion) and sales and excise tax ($6.9 billion) per year, paying an effective

tax rate on their income 2.6% higher than the top 1% of taxpayers on average nationally (​Gee, &

Gardner, 2016)​, which exceeds the cost of education and healthcare that they incur

(Congressional Budget Office, 2007). Under our policy, undocumented immigrants would be

even more beneficial to the country, as refugee/asylum status and the “legalization” that it

ensure, would result in an increase in their tax contributions of more than two billion dollars

annually, as currently undocumented immigrants further comply with tax law, and see an

increase in wages as a result of their new “legal” status (​Gee, & Gardner, 2016)​.


There is ample evidence that undocumented immigrants empart on their journey for

economic reasons, and to insure the safety of themselves and their loved ones. This can be

observed anecdotally, and more generally through the decline in undocumented migration

following the 2008 economic recession, and the innumerable historic cases of undocumented
immigration flows mirroring economic conditions and opportunity in the United States (Hanson,

2015). More specifically, we see that undocumented immigrants uncoerced return migration is

“Dependent on the accumulation of savings,” in the United States (Chort & Rupelle, 2016). All

of this, along with the economic conditions in the countries from which most undocumented

immigration occurs (​Congressional Research Service, 2019)​, supports our conclusion that our

expansion of the refugee and asylum definition to include economic refugees would allow the

majority of undocumented immigrants to be considered for economic refugee or asylum



The creation of the economic refugee and asylum categories and the subsequent growth

in applications by currently undocumented people and those that might’ve otherwise become

undocumented, would ensure a more secure immigration system. At the moment, we have

approximately 12 million undocumented immigrants residing in the country, and if politicians on

both sides are truly concerned about the criminal nature of these undocumented immigrants

(New York Times, 2019), it would only make sense to want to vet them through our highly

intensive asylum system. The current process takes an average of six months, involving twelve

page application (Willingham, 2018), fingerprinting, with biographic information run through

five databases of various national intelligence and security agencies, as well as in person

interviews conducted by USCIS and DHS (U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services, 2009).

The United States has the most advanced and secure system for vetting asylum seekers in the
world, and if undocumented immigrants are truly a threat, allowing them to seek asylum would

ensure everyone’s safety.

Human Rights

Last, but most importantly, is the effect this policy will have on human rights. Firstly, our

policy would of course expand the total number of people who could access asylum, not only by

raising the total ceiling and expanding the definition of a refugee and asylee, but also in the

increase in funding for translators and legal representation in both immigration courts and within

the refugee/asylum system, which both immigration judges and advocates are largely in favor of

(Medina, 2019). This increase can be funded at least partially by the increased tax revenues

generated by an increase in refugees and the legalization of currently undocumented people.

The creation of the economic refugee status would also allow applicants to avoid the

dangerous, unjust, and sometimes deadly journey that undocumented immigration necessitates.

Migrants are often targeted for kidnapping (Amnesty International, 2014), must pay coyotes for

their smuggling and are often extorted by gangs and police for upwards of $10,000 (Kulish,

2018), and are subject to violence with up to one in three migrant women being sexually

assaulted (Kessler, 2019) on their thousand mile journeys. With our policy in place, however,

these migrants would have a much greater opportunity to apply for the both the economic and

broader refugee status from their home country, with greater funding meaning applicants

wouldn’t have to wait in their current situation for as long. The establishment of economic

asylum would also allow people to apply who, due to the direness of their situation, did not have

time to apply for refugee status, even in our quicker version.


The creation of the label of economic refugee and asylees would be the largest piece of

immigration reform in the last century, with our policy ensuring the protection of more people in

need by allowing those already here to apply for legalization, allowing more people to apply for

refugee status from their home country instead of having to impart on a treacherous migration,

and making the process more just overall. In short, it’s the humane thing to do. However, the

increase in refugees in the country and the legalization of undocumented immigrants would also

benefit the American economy, and further ensure the security of every American.


Lastly, through the short term and long term goals we have laid out, we hope to reform

the immigration system to a point where migrants are no longer de-humanized, mistreated or

stereotyped. We believe that through no wall, defunding organizations that focus on

enforcement, along with the abolishment of ICE, migrant bodies will not fear persecution for

coming to the U.S., and the rhetoric surrounding them will be restructured. In addition, the

creation of the economic refugee and asylee would allow for an immigration system that’s better

for the human rights of the migrant, and for the United State’s economy and security overall.

Furthermore, by passing the DREAM Act, establishing independent immigration courts, and

creating a pathway to citizenship, we can create a system that does right by those who work to

become a part of our country.

Works Cited:

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