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US needs to ‘increase the legal avenues for migration,’ says former Secretary of Homeland Security

Kristin Myers
·2-min read

The former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security told Yahoo Finance that part of “comprehensive” immigration reform was a “better way to handle legal migration,” adding that reform needed to “increase the avenues for legal migration, including seasonal migration.”

The Mexican Migration Project has studied Mexican migration to the United States since 1982, and have discovered that stricter border policies backfired, as seasonal workers stayed in the country and sent for their families instead of returning home.

“I come from Arizona and our communities around the border and even North of the border, workers migrated back and forth,” Napolitano said. “I think the Mexican Immigration [sic] Project is correct, that tightening up the border just served to keep undocumented migrants in the country as opposed to respecting the seasonal flows of a true labor immigration practice.”

Moving forward, Napolitano said, the country needs three things: “good, effective, border security,” ways to deal with the root causes of “illegal immigration,” and “put a comprehensive immigration reform proposal on the floor of the Congress.”

Migrants walk on a dirt road after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, Tuesday, March 23, 2021, in Mission, Texas. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Migrants walk on a dirt road after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, Tuesday, March 23, 2021, in Mission, Texas. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Border arrests have been on the rise, more than 170,000 in March. But as these numbers continue to increase, the number of Immigrants in detention have steadily decreased from 56,000 in 2019 to 14,000 in March.

“There are a lot of causes,” behind the recent immigration wave that Republicans have called a “crisis” at the border, Napolitano explained. “Some of them are the root causes of immigration.” 

“The Biden administration needs to quickly ramp up its capacity to handle the unaccompanied minors. The sheltering and the placement of unaccompanied minors is handled by the Department of Health and Human Services. DHS can help through FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency], but they need to focus on how more quickly, not only to take in those minors, but to place them either with family members or foster parents away from the border. and that's a capacity issue. and they need to ramp it up,” said Napolitano.

Kristin Myers is a reporter and anchor for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

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