A major overhaul of U.S. immigration laws is not realistic in the current political climate, yet the winner of the 2012 presidential election still must confront the issue of millions of illegal immigrants, says CFR’s Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow Edward Alden. "It will likely take a level of leadership out of the president and out of Congress that we haven’t seen in recent years," Alden says in a CFR 2012 election video issue brief. "It may be too much to hope for."
Citing the failures of the past three administrations, Alden says the best that can be expected is a series of piecemeal reforms to longstanding problems with U.S. immigration laws. Recent reductions in illegal crossings on the Mexico border have shown that U.S. border security is dramatically improved. But Alden says enforcement alone is not going to solve the problem of legacy illegal immigrants, "and it hurts our economy to spend that much on deportation."