Ideals of comprehensive immigration reform have been co-opted by advocates of border and internal security and enforcement, leaving behind our aspirations as a compassionate nation of immigrants. Mindful of the tension between blind adherence to the rule of law and the goal of empathetic immigration policy, I suggest a reframing of comprehensive immigration reform as compassionate reform and sketch the details of this transformative policymaking approach.
Focusing on the life-threatening journey of undocumented immigrants and the perils they and their families face once inside the United States, I argue for a time-out on deaths at the border and on workplace immigration raids that split families apart. While supporting the expanded pathways to citizenship fostered by the federal DREAM and AgJOB Act proposals, ultimately I urge a return to the good neighbor Western Hemisphere exemption to immigration limits that existed until 1965. Realizing that the mood of the country has turned against immigrants, particularly those from Mexico, I conclude with suggestions as to how U.S. residents and policymakers might acquire empathy and thus the will to embrace compassionate immigration reform.
Steven W. Bender, Compassionate Immigration Reform, 38 FORDHAM URB. L.J. 107 (2011).