Bad policy is expensive. The U.S. now spends more on immigration enforcement than all federal law enforcement efforts combined. When will the “enforcement only” crowd understand that we might not need 20,000 agents patrolling our borders if we actually had an immigration system that worked instead of one that allows policy makers to pretend that we didn’t hold up the “Help Wanted” sign that drew the overwhelming majority of the 11 million-plus undocumented immigrants who now live here. The ultimate irony (or hypocrisy) is that it’s the virtual lockdown at the border that has convinced so many of the undocumented that it’s no longer safe to cross back home and so they stay in anticipation of the inevitable: the day our economy is pumping on all eight cylinders again and most Americans go back to turning a blind eye again to their presence. The difference now, of course, is that undocumented immigrants have enough brothers and sisters who are willing to go to the polls and express their acute displeasure with that business as usual approach. As my dear friend Roberto Reveles and others like to say, “Today we march…tomorrow we vote.” Come to think of it, it might be time to update that chant to something along these lines: “Remember why we marched when you vote today.”
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Bio: James E. Garcia is a playwright, journalist, university lecturer, and Phoenix-based media communications consultant. As a journalist, he has been a reporter, columnist, magazine and newspaper editor, foreign correspondent, and television, radio and online commentator. He is the owner of Creative Vistas Media, co-founder of The Real Arizona Coalition (therealarizona.org), immediate past chair of the Arizona Latino Research Enterprise, and the author of more than 20 plays.