But amnesty is not enough — and in the case of our current population of 11 million illegal immigrants, no politician will even consider true amnesty. No law that does not include some punishment has a chance of passing.
What is needed is a change in overall immigration policy that would make Garcia’s case impossible. Even without amnesty, Garcia should long ago have received permanent legal-resident status. But our current system is hopelessly backlogged, and waits of two or more decades is the rule, not the exception, for people from Latin America and parts of Asia. The number of permanent visas available is too small to accommodate US labor demands, much less the desire of people like Garcia to contribute their talents to our nation.
Unless Congress acts — and soon — we’ll see more states like California that try to dig their ways out of the morass our immigration laws have created. Immigration policy is a federal responsibility, but Congress has abrogated this responsibility for the last decade.
Keeping bad federal laws on the books doesn’t advance the rule of law. It only encourages scofflaws and state usurpation of the federal role.