Pressure is mounting for the U.S. Congress to update the nation's immigration laws following a move by the state of Arizona to proceed on its own in the absence of federal action. President Barack Obama is encouraging lawmakers to act, hopeful that they may craft reforms that are grounded on fairness for both American citizens and those who hope to become one.
Located along the U.S. border with Mexico, Arizona recently passed a law requiring non-citizens in the U.S. to carry documents proving their legal status. Police would be authorized to question anyone they reasonably suspect of being undocumented, and those found to be here illegally would be detained and turned over to federal authorities.
Arizona's governor said drug violence along the border and the costs of uncontrolled immigration through her state required her to act, in the best interests of Arizonans. Authorities in Mexico fear that it could result in the harassment of their citizens traveling or working across the border, the busiest in the world, and have spoken out against it.
The dispute renews a debate that has raged for many years in the U.S., how to control the nation's borders while still allowing the commerce and population growth that fueled America's development and prosperity. Attracted by jobs and a better way of life, an estimated 11 million people are living in the U.S. illegally. Remittance payments by foreign workers to their families abroad are an important source of revenue for many countries.
Even the most ardent advocates of US immigration reform agree that the process should be regulated. As lawmakers work through the issue in the days ahead, President Obama will work with them to enact comprehensive immigration reform grounded in the principles of responsibility and accountability.
"As a nation, as a people, we can choose a different future, one that keeps faith with our history, with our heritage and with the hope that America has always inspired in the hearts of people all over the world," the President said