Washington, D.C.- Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid issued the following statement on a Republican proposal to charge local enforcement agencies with immigration duties:
“I strongly support effective enforcement of our immigration laws. But I also believe we cannot get control of our borders until we reform our immigration laws to make them realistic and enforceable.”
“Sen. Hutchinson announced today that she will introduce immigration legislation to give state and local officials expanded authority to enforce federal immigration laws. I have joined state and local law enforcement agencies in opposing such measures in the past because I believe they are likely to lead to racial profiling, undermine pubic safety, and divert limited resources away from criminal law enforcement. State and local police agencies have expressed concern that immigrants may be reluctant to report crimes or suspicious activity or otherwise to cooperate with the police if they or their family members do not have legal immigration status. Victims of domestic violence may also fear reporting abuse for fear of immigration consequences that could separate them from their children.
“It is easy to say that if we throw more money and more border patrol agents at the problem, it will get better. That’s a pretty popular message but it’s not true. Since 1986, we have increased the border patrol budget 10 times and tripled the number of border patrol agents. And yet, according to the CATO Institute, the probability for getting caught crossing the border illegally has decreased from 30% in the 1980s to 5% today.
“Enforcement alone doesn’t work. Democrats and Republicans agree that immigration reform is crucial to our national security and that the immigration system is broken. But if we want to be able to enforce our laws, we must make them realistic.
“I look forward to working with my colleagues on comprehensive immigration reform that will protect our national security, while creating legal ways for workers to come to our country.”