Immigration reform not sustainable, professor says

By By Ryan Shelton

By Ryan Shelton

As state lawmakers passed a much-discussed immigration bill on Wednesday night, Peter Schuck, one of the world’s leading experts on immigration law and policy, spoke to a local crowd about the challenges of immigration reform, calling it “the key to our destiny.”

Schuck, a law professor at Yale University and author of numerous books, spoke at Squatters Pub as part of the S.J. Quinney College of Law’s third Social Summit, a series that aims to get community members involved in national issues.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates there are at least 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, with another 200,000 entering the country every year. Because the numbers will continue to increase, Schuck said the nation’s current immigration policy of deportation and wall-building is not sustainable.

“There are no neat solutions,” he said. “We’re going to have to settle on measures that disappoint us in some respect, but we must reform out current policies.”

One proposed solution, which was recently passed by the Utah State Legislature and is expected to receive the governor’s signature soon, would allow police officers to enforce federal immigration laws-an authority once restricted to federal agents. But the move has many Utahns, including Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank, worried that undocumented immigrants will be reluctant to report crimes, fearing they might be arrested and eventually deported.

Schuck, who supports enforcement of federal immigrations laws on the local level, said the law doesn’t force police officers to act as immigration agents but allows them to volunteer as agents.

“So long as they’re well-trained, I think it’s a good idea,” Schuck said. “We ought to make it easier for them to do that.”

Ben Andrews, a senior political science major, said he was surprised by Schuck’s support for the law.

“This piece of legislation is completely out of line,” Andrews said. “Immigration should be a federal responsibility.”

As the presidential race heats up, candidates are beginning to unveil the details of their immigration policies, which are unusually similar, Schuck said. This similarity, he said, signals an inevitable reformation of immigration policy during the next administration regardless of who becomes president.

“I think we’re going to see a large increase in green cards, guest worker permits and amnesty,” Schuck said. “It’s certainly going to have to happen. Our identity is based on acceptance of people from all walks of life, and we must be true to that when we solve these issues.”

Stephanie Larados, a sophomore in gender studies who plans to attend law school after she graduates, said Schuck’s appearance reinforced her desire to become a lawyer.

“There’s just so much you can do with a law degree,” she said. “I feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to hear professor Schuck speak… He offered insights on immigrations that you don’t hear anywhere else.”

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