Welcoming questions from the audience composed of approximately 15 students, Dominguez described his position on the necessity of immigration policy reform. He explained that reform is truly needed yet is highly unlikely to take place.
“I don’t think that there’s likely to be a broad, generous, comprehensive reform effort, but I would like to be wrong, because I think that would be both smart and humane,” Dominguez said.
His discussion of the necessity of immigration policy reform resonated with his audience.
“I think that a lot of us in the room agreed with him, that as a human being, giving people the rights they sought when they came to this country would be a move in the right direction, even though it may not serve the economic self-interests of all Americans right now,” said audience member Amy M. Beeson ’10.
Dominguez’s opening remarks concerned the President-elect’s general views on immigration, founded on three main building blocks: supporting immigration, strengthening border control, and providing a system of legalization.
He described Obama’s stated goal of increasing immigration as unlikely to be feasible since a large consensus of the population believes that immigration must be scaled back.
“Even among immigrant communities, there is the view that ‘once I got in, then [we should] close the door’,” Dominguez said.
Much of the country’s population is not adversely affected by increased levels of immigration, he said, while still acknowledging that the lowest quintile of the population is hurt by greater inflows of people into the U.S.
“In this huge period of immigration, legal and illegal, over the past 20 years, it’s actually not all that easy to find negative impact from immigration,” Dominguez said.
He discussed the barriers inherent in pursuing immigration reform, particularly devising a method for currently illegal immigrants to obtain citizenship.
Although a path toward legalization is favorable in that it would lead to decreased law-breaking and a more manageable flow of labor, a system allowing undocumented immigrants to eventually become citizens may motivate more immigrants to enter illegally.
He acknowledged the proposal of a mandatory citizenship ID, though not supported by any political party, may be a boon for more effective immigration policy, by allowing for protection of the rights of citizens “whose skin may be darker.”
“In the United States, the likelihood of the adoption of a mandatory citizenship ID is approximately that of a snowball in hell,” Dominguez said. “It’s simply unfeasible, politically.”