The humanitarian crisis involving thousands of unaccompanied children crossing the U.S. border has become entangled with the debate over immigration reform. This will make it even more difficult to pass immigration reform legislation that would bring millions out of the shadows and ensure that future newcomers come in legally through the system.

There’s a reason the nations of the world distinguish between immigrants and refugees (about 3% and 0.2% of the world population respectively.) The former constitutes an ongoing social phenomenon that can be permanently addressed by a flexible system linking immigration policy to market dynamics, while the latter is by definition the product of exceptional circumstances that may require specific action.

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