RD to immigration advocates: are there any limits?
Martinez-de-Castro suggested in response to the question about the risk of perpetuating discriminatory patterns that anyone could try “looking for one of those job opportunities where workers are needed.”
In connection with the same question, when I pointed out to Esposito the fact that people who do not have geographical proximity to the U.S. may have the desire to come here but have other hurdles to overcome — like “how are you going to cross an ocean” — Esposito said, “A plane, I guess.”
Esposito subsequently acknowledged that it was not a simple or trivial issue for those from far away and with extremely limited resources to simply pick themselves up and get on an airplane and come to the U.S. But, asked whether, under current conditions elsewhere in the world, an extraordinary number of people from countries with traditionally low levels of immigration to the U.S. would avail themselves of an opportunity to come here if the opportunity were made known and made to seem like a plausible possibility, she disclaimed a view: “You’re asking me to speculate about what people would do if it were a more fair and equitable process. I just don’t know the answer to that.”
Questions that won’t go away
Each advocate repeatedly tried to steer the conversation to what was variously described as the “inhumanity” or inequity or unfairness of the current system, and to reasons why that system should be fundamentally reformed in the direction of greater openness. They were not prepared, however, to provide the shape of what a new and improved system would look like, and, although Tactaquin and Martinez-de-Castro made general bows in the direction of the need for discussion on the scope of employment-based immigration, I was not able to discern any specific limitations that any of the advocates was prepared to affirm; to the contrary, the key arguments for opposing enforcement today appear to be fully applicable to a post-legalization world.
If advocates were to get closer to their short-term goal of creating a “road to legalization,” these questions of future limits and on whether the innocent can ever be removed are sure to recur with great frequency.