DU panel: Deporting 12 million illegal immigrants is not realistic

After a year of study, a Denver University panel released 25 recommendations for immigration reform this week. Among them, according to the DU website, was a recommendation for some form of amnesty for America’s millions of illegal immigrants.


And without excusing violations that have led to some 12 million people living in the U.S. illegally, the panel finds that deporting that many individuals is simply not realistic. Meanwhile, leaving that many people living in a shadow state is also impractical and unproductive. The panel calls for creating a process that allows illegal immigrants to come forward and register for a provisional status, working toward full legal residency.

But that residency would require English language proficiency, [panel chairman Jim] Griesemer said. While the U.S. is built as a nation on immigration and the vitality of many cultures, a common language must be part of the country’s continued development and prosperity.

But the report wasn’t a far-left call to ease up on immigration enforcement. It also recommended a government-issued worker identification card, along with an electronic system by which employers could verify legal status.

For more than 20 years, federal law has required all employers to examine documents presented by new hires to verify identity and work authorization, and to complete and retain employment eligibility verification forms (I-9). There is general agreement that the I-9 process has been undermined by fraud, both document fraud, where prospective employees present counterfeit or invalid documents, and identity fraud, where prospective employees present valid documents issued to other individuals. Even if employers are willing and motivated to comply with the law, as the great majority seem to be, the inability to positively and reliably verify immigration status is a major stumbling block to managing illegal immigration through employers.

And it also called for more resources to ensure that border patrol agents can do their job:

In addition to illegal immigration concerns, there is an urgent need to deal with violence, drug smuggling, human trafficking and potential terrorist activity in border areas. Indeed, [the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection’s] top priority is now to keep terrorists and their weapons from entering the United States.

Each year, Denver University’s Strategic Issues Forum picks a topic and spends a year developing recommendations. According to Chancellor Robert Coombe, this year’s topic was particularly challenging.

“This year, the topic was the greatest test yet of the process,” Coombe said.

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