Immigration enforcement can be referred to as actions taken against persons in the United States that violate the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) (Williams, 2015). The latter has various provisions that guide the immigration process and regulate the movement of illegal aliens in the United States. It outlines both criminal and civil violations. This paper will discuss various issues that are involved in immigration enforcement and how the state and the local government can be involved in this process. It is necessary to further assess the department charged with immigration enforcement and what changes the federal government can effect to improve the situation.
There are some underlying issues in immigration enforcement. The major problems include visa security and border control. The Immigration and National Act provides that immigrants should be scrutinized properly before the issuance of a visa. The U.S. Department of State (DOS) should ascertain that an individual is eligible for a visa on the grounds of criminal activities, and health among others. However, such a move raises concerns that the DOS will be provided with a lot of powers on the visa issue, which is not its core mandate (Williams, 2015). Border security involves securing the way people and goods enter the country. The law requires individuals entering the country to be checked to ensure that only approved people enter the United States. Concerns of infringing personal rights of innocent persons arise here. Another issue connected with immigration enforcement is legal immigration. The INA has provided provisions that allow aliens to be admitted permanently to the United States. The Act provides permanent residence on the four broad principles, which include the admission of candidates with needed skills, family reunification, protection of refugees, and the admission in regard to immigrant’s origin (Williams, 2015). Documents control and verification procedures are emphasized within the INA to ensure that documents are not counterfeited. The process is aimed at stamping out document fraud, which has led to illegal employment. The measure had to be reviewed in the wake of the September 11 occurrence. The issue of how to create a system that verifies the legal employment status is of primary concern. Interior immigration enforcement is another problem. The process of ensuring that various policies and tools are available to enforce the INA should be also put focus on.
The power to adopt immigration laws solely lies under the federal government and more specifically under the Congress of the United States. The latter has the sole authority to allow aliens into the country and determines those that should be deported from it. The state and the local authorities do not have the power to create their policies on immigration. The federal law bestows such powers primarily on the Congress, which has the sole mandate to prescribe laws, but does not have the exclusive authority to enforce them. The Congress authorizes the state and local authorities to implement immigration laws. However, the recent rulings by the federal court suggest that the state and local authorities may enforce these laws without the authorization of the federal government (Kanstroom, 2016). Nonetheless, law enforcement at the state level should be consistent with the federal law. In cases where the state law provides a conflicting clause, the federal law is used as superior.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was formed in 2003. It has a primary mission of reducing terrorist attacks and the vulnerability to them, and helping to recover after such disasters. The department has various units that work towards achieving the main goal. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is a division that deals with the enforcement of immigration law. It works on enforcing programs, taking immigration actions, detaining illegal immigrants and taking care of detainees. The ICE partners with the state and local authorities and the police in enforcing the law. Police agencies and jails help the unit to apprehend and remove illegal immigrants from the country (Kanstroom, 2016).
The federal government has employed various measures to enforce immigration laws, but they have not yielded the expected results. Enforcing the immigration law remains a big challenge to the authority. The number of illegal immigrants is still high despite concerted efforts to curb the issue. The federal government has dealt with the problem of illegal immigration by enforcing policies of immigration, deportation, and the removal of illegal immigrants (Das, 2013). It can achieve immigration control by reforming the immigration system. One important way is to legalize the existing immigrants. The move can reduce the influx of the future illegal immigrants into the country. Another important way that can improve the federal government ability to curb immigration is strengthening enforcement channels. Enforcing laws is a challenge to the federal government because of poor structures. Designing a well-functioning immigration system can help in enforcing immigration policies. The DHS can improve the latter through empowering the state and local authorities to have their inputs in the matters of immigration law enforcement. Secondly, it should adopt a fair approach to enforcing immigration laws by recognizing the state and local authorities as partners (Das, 2013).
In conclusion, immigration enforcement is a challenge to the United States that requires a systematic approach to curb the issue. The federal government cannot adequately address challenges without involving the state and local authorities. The inclusion of the latter in formulating and enforcing immigration laws will lower high numbers of illegal immigrants.
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