Immigration Reform 2013: Why California Has the Right Answer


With Congress focused on the fake government shutdown, it seems unlikely that we will see immigration reform occur at the federal level this year. 2014 will see the House of Representatives running for re-election — hardly the time for bipartisan work to be done. This means that if immigration reform doesn't pass at the federal level in the next few weeks it will probably not be brought up until 2015 at the earliest. This doesn't mean that immigration reform is completely doomed across the country, though.

The states, California in particular, have made significant progress on providing relief for the estimated 12 million illegal aliens residing in the United States. California has passed the TRUST Act, which decreases the level of cooperation between state and federal authorities on deporting non-violent lawbreakers. This means that illegal immigrants will no longer have to worry about being deported for traffic violations or other minor infractions. California has also passed legislation that will grant driver licenses to its illegal-immigrant population. The state already grants in-state tuition and state aid for DREAMers, or illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. 

In its own way, wouldn't giving greater discretion to the individual states be the best way to address the illegal immigration problem? Why should Californians have to suffer from a closed-borders policy because of Arizona's preferences? Likewise, why should Arizona suffer from an open-borders policy because of California's preferences? 

Some might object that it is unrealistic to decentralize immigration policy — but is it really? The European Union's member states each have independent immigration policies. Some allow immigrants to quickly gain citizenship and others are more restrictionist. Despite this they have managed to allow the free movement of labor within their borders. Are not the American states just as equally capable of deciding for themselves what immigration policies they wish to pursue? 

Regardless of what action occurs, it is clear that we should stop looking towards the federal government to solve the immigration crisis in the union. The states, California in particular, seem to have a better understanding of what should be done.