The border between the United States and Mexico has never been firmly fixed. Many families have members living on both sides and shoppers cross back and forth. Every day thousands of people pass over it, some with documents and some without. In the past two decades, millions of immigrants have come to the U.S. without obtaining legal status. They are spurred on by the collapse in Mexican agriculture, shifts in labor and trade caused by the North American Free Trade Agreement, and the desire of separated families to be reunited.
While politicians and legislators have known for the better part of 20 years that U.S. immigration policy is inadequate, calls for comprehensive reform have largely gone unheeded. Nearly everyone agrees that the system is broken, but different critics focus on different elements of the problem.