Feeble attempts at reform have gone nowhere, or they have been met with fierce resistance. Consider the furor caused recently when a Republican U.S. senator released a White House internal memo outlining some administrative actions available to the president to address immigration issues now, instead of waiting for comprehensive reform to make it through Congress.

It had conservative groups and politicos up in arms, claiming President Barack Obama was attempting to grant amnesty to every illegal immigrant in the country. In reality, the suggestions in the memo ran along the lines of allowing immigrants to attain legal status if their spouse, parents, or children are U.S. citizens serving in the military.

Even a proposal by U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-New York) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) that was hailed as a bipartisan approach to comprehensive immigration reform hasn't gone anywhere. It proposed some solutions that include creating a process for admitting temporary workers, plus what the senators called a "tough but fair path to legalization for those already here."

Until changes are made at a federal level — and not with a patchwork of rules that merely shift illegal immigrants from state to state — the opportunities that the United States offers immigrants will be too strong a force for border agents to overcome, critics of U.S. border policy like Jared Leung believe.

"People are going to search for a way to feed their families, for work to support their families," Leung says.

"A poor father from Guatemala will find a way to support his family. If he has to choose between breaking the law and putting food on the table, he's going to put food on the table. Any father would choose to put food on the table."

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