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Letter: Embracing Immigrants is the Right Thing to Do (Buffalo News)

To the Editor:

In an April 30 letter, a Buffalo resident argues that our nation “just can’t afford” immigration reform that would provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants living and working in our country. He has it backward. The truth is that we just can’t afford to maintain a dysfunctional status quo.

The federal government’s enforcement- only approach to immigration is expensive, inefficient and ineffective. For example, the annual budget for Immigration and Customs Enforcement has jumped from $3.13 billion in 2005 to $5.93 billion last year. But despite the hefty spending on enforcement, the nation’s undocumented immigrant population rose from 10.5 million to 10.8 million over that period.

Reform that creates a pathway to citizenship will stop this costly exercise in futility. Moreover, it will boost our economy by $1.5 trillion over 10 years, according to a recent study by the Center for American Progress. The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, has reached a similar conclusion.

Aside from the obvious economic benefits, embracing the millions of hardworking immigrant families living in our communities is simply the right thing to do. It would uphold our nation’s promise as a land of opportunity for all.

Mario Ezekiel Hernandez
Regional Organizer, Western Regional Office New York Civil Liberties Union

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