Legal Immigration Will Resolve America's Real Border Problems

16 Pages Posted: 31 Dec 2019

See all articles by David Bier

David Bier

Cato Institute - Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity

Date Written: August 20, 2019


The U.S. government has allowed its asylum and border processing system to become overwhelmed. Central Americans are crossing illegally and often relying on asylum and other processing procedures at the border because they are virtually the only ways for them to enter the United States. After numerous failed attempts to deter the flow or restrict asylum, the most realistic and humane way to control the border is for Congress and the administration to channel future immigrants into an orderly legal structure for coming to the country.

Five reforms would make the asylum system manageable again and restore control over the border:

1. Humanitarian parole: Waive entry restrictions for Central Americans in the backlogged green card lines and with family legally in the United States.

2. Private refugee sponsorship: Allow U.S. residents and organizations to sponsor refugees from abroad as the State Department had planned in 2016.

3. Guest worker expansion: Expand the H-2A and H-2B seasonal worker programs to year-round jobs for Central Americans and waive the H-2B cap.

4. Legalization: Legalize illegal immigrants who have no serious criminal convictions and let them reunite with their spouses and children, eliminating the network for future illegal immigration.

5. Processing at ports: Remove the cap on asylum seekers at ports of entry, process 100 percent of their claims there, and release them with an employment authorization document contingent on them appearing in court.

These reforms will not stop all asylum seekers, but they will redirect enough of the flow into other legal channels to make the asylum process manageable again for U.S. authorities.

Keywords: immigration reform, illegal immigration, United States Border Patrol, humanitarian parole, guest worker expansion, asylum seeker

JEL Classification: F2, F22, F5, F52, K37, K42

Suggested Citation

Bier, David, Legal Immigration Will Resolve America's Real Border Problems (August 20, 2019). Cato Institute, Policy Analysis, No. 879, 2019, Available at SSRN:

David Bier (Contact Author)

Cato Institute - Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity ( email )

1000 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001-5403
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics