Arizona Republic on Counterproductive Rhetoric

Calls to ‘secure border first’ undermine reform

by Dennis Wagner
The Arizona Republic
June 20, 2010

Amid a growing national angst about illegal immigration, Americans keep hearing a chorus: Secure the border first. Then talk about immigration reform….

……..Michele Wucker, executive director of the World Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, said border incursions happen wherever two countries have unequal economies or black-market trade.

Wucker, author of “Lockout: Why America Keeps Getting Immigration Wrong,” said those who demand a sort of iron curtain prior to policy change are obstructionists: “It means don’t ever come up with a workable system.”

Arizona has the most to gain from a new policy paradigm, Wucker argued, because the status quo made the state a thoroughfare for smuggling. Yet the state’s political leaders, caught up in a wave of public opinion, no longer press for reform.

“When I see John McCain saying, ‘Build the dang fence,’ I’m very sad,” Wucker said. “Arizona would benefit more than any other state from immigration reform at a national level. They’re really cutting off their nose to spite their face.”