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Loopholes and policy: AG Eric Holder says 'our immigration laws are broken'

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Attorney General of the United States Eric Holder responded to critics, who have been angrily watching busloads of young Central Americans being dispersed elsewhere in this nation, via an interview broadcast today.

"Well let me just say this," Holder told an ABC reporter, Pierre Thomas (see transcript from ABCs "This Week") in an interview, "our immigration laws are broken. It's why we need comprehensive immigration reform." Blaming other nations' economic situations and violence, Attorney General Holder also said on Sunday:

"The immigration laws are being enforced, though we are faced with an extraordinary situation where thousands of people, young people especially, are fleeing Central America for economic reasons to get away from really endemic violence in their countries."

Holder also deflected criticism from President Barack Obama. "The president has put together a proposal to Congress asking for almost $4 billion. We are surging immigration judges to the border to process all of these people."

While Reporter Thomas also mentioned criticism "on the other side," which believes the Obama Administration has deported "way too many people," and a lawsuit recently filed which talks about the children really not getting "due process," Holder said this:

"We're certainly going to get criticized from both sides. But what we're certainly also going to do is make sure that we follow the law.

Run from the Border

In discussion regarding President Obama, the panel noted he was "taking some heat for shooting pool but not going to the border to see that crisis firsthand."

David Plouffe, Obama's former campaign manager, said "... [Obama] doesn't need to go to the border to address this crisis. First of all, we've had a crisis in immigration in this country for decades --" and then addressed the host 's next question of "But why not go?"

"Well, the point is he's had plenty of officials down there. It's beside the point, OK," said Plouffe,"what we need to do is focus on, A, we need to fix the immigration system most broadly. That's the biggest message out of all this. It's been languishing for decades. You have Republican support, you have Democratic support, get it done."

The editor of The Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol added his opinion in the panel discussion.

"And things in Central America have been tough for a long time. But the idea that you're going to let unaccompanied minors just come into the U.S. because of loophole in the 2008 law that doesn't -- that allows you to send a Mexican kid back and a Honduran kid gets to stay. And that's not sensible. And so the Republicans are going to propose this week on The Hill amending the 2008 law to have even treatment for everyone. And the president does have to send a message, you can't come here. And why is this happening -- David talks about this has been a problem for decades. Why are these kids suddenly flooding this place? Because the president amnestied all the kids who are already here in 2012. And people in Central America decided... " (CROSSTALK) " ... he amnestied all the kids who were here and every sensible person in Central America thought, hey, great if I can get my kid into the U.S. there will be an amnesty for him too."

Jobs and immigration

One of the voices suggesting amnesty is a good idea seems to be Jonathan Hoenig of the Capitalist Pig blog,who is quoted last year on the reason.com website:

“The fact that foreigners are eager to pick crops, clean houses, bus tables and produce allows more of us to afford cheaper food and better services, affording us even more wealth to enjoy and invest. It’s not the immigrants, but the taxes, spending and entitlements (most of which immigrants don’t even receive) that have drained the economy dry.”

Still others believe the immigrants steal jobs and drive down wages, as mentioned in a WashingtonPost piece in 2006:

"According to the economic models, it's a no-brainer: a surge of low-skilled immigrants should increase the supply of such workers, driving down wages at the expense of working-class Americans." In fact, a North Dakota Senator, Byron L. Dorgan, explained why he opposes legislation to allow more immigration by stating in the article "I don't think you need a professor to understand that when you import substantial cheap labor, it displaces American workers."

But an article by Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney at Brookings.edu examined "how future immigration trends could impact American wages," and they came up with this:

"How immigrants impact the wages of U.S.-born workers depends on whether immigrants and U.S.-born workers compete for the same jobs or, instead, if they complement each other in the labor market. Despite concerns that competition from immigrants might harm employment prospects for native-born Americans, recent economic research suggests that, on average, immigrants raise wages and expand employment opportunities for Americans."

They add this next in their article:

"How is this possible? The answer lies in the way that the economy evolves to incorporate immigrants. For instance, less-skilled immigrants working in, say, agriculture, construction, or household services, appear to improve the wages and earnings of Americans by expanding the capacity of American businesses and farms, increasing the responsibility and pay of American foremen and supervisors, and providing expanded opportunities for higher-skilled Americans, particularly women, to pursue higher-paying careers."

Man-made crisis

In the Congress of the United States, the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Bob Goodlatte made statements indicating he is looking for some leadership from the President on the matter and gave some criticism as well, stating on June 25:

"It was easy to predict that people in South and Central America, as well as in Mexico, would recognize a veiled invitation from the Administration to send their children and families to the United States with little chance of deportation. These individuals know that the Administration’s policy of non-enforcement of our immigration laws presents a golden opportunity for unaccompanied minors and families with minors to come to the U.S., most likely to be released with very little chance of ever being removed. The Administration’s message is tragic because the journey the Administration encourages is so dangerous and results in death, disease, and harm to so many minors along the way. It is often said that Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Unfortunately, it seems Obama fiddles while our borders implode."

The chairman further said that he was "looking forward" to finding out what the Obama Administration was planning to do about the crisis and what solutions could work to end it.

Here in San Diego County, as reported by local KPBS, the U.S. Border Patrol said it was stopping the flow of Central American migrants to San Diego after their apprehensions/arrests in Texas. The article quoted a spokesman, Paul Carr, who explained that they had reduced the backlog in south Texas and now were better able to process more migrants there in Texas.

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