ST. PAUL, Minn. – One day after a terror attack in New York City sparked the latest round of immigration debates, experts in Minnesota are weighing in on the proposed need for an immigration system overhaul.
“I think we’re having the wrong conversations, that’s where I’d start,” said John Keller, Executive Director of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota.
“The reality, the facts, which I feel like we have to keep repeating in this era, are that immigrants, both those with long-term legal status and those that are undocumented, commit crimes at a far lower rate than native-born persons,” he said, referring to two recent studies that reached the same conclusion.
Keller also clarified a term President Trump often refers to in his immigration analyses: “extreme vetting.”
“Extreme vetting is a campaign term that he used, just to be clear. And extreme vetting was also linked to a complete shutdown of Muslim immigrants and immigration. Both of those terms and ideas have been found by the courts to be unconstitutional,” he said.
Keller says all people coming to – or merely visiting – this country are subject to significant background checks and vetting, including standards that the administration itself recently publicly supported. That includes the State Department’s Diversity Visa Lottery Program.
But Keller also acknowledges that the immigration system is broken. He might not agree on where it should be fixed, but he’s open to the conversation.
“We’ve got to fix the system so it works better, not slam the doors, without any facts or without any rational basis,” he said.