Immigration Reform

DACA    (Differed Action on Childhood Arrivals)

Apparently, the story line is that 10 Republican governors forced the Trump administration to force congress to write the current DACA arrangements into law. (There was the real possibility that DACA might not survive the court challenge by the governors.)

8 of 10 Americans oppose deporting these immigrants (DREAMERS) who essentially know no other country; immigrants who for all practical purposes are Americans. I, along with most other Americans, urge congress to get this done with a pathway to citizenship for these immigrants.

Deportations to Working Immigrants

In addition to the threat to DACA, the ICE deportation crisis continues. Hardworking, business owning, church going, family raising immigrants are being swept up with those who truly do need to be deported. This is not our country’s finest hour.

In early 2014 House Republicans drafted legislation for a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants who meet certain conditions. That or similar legislation is desperately needed now to stop these deportations.

It is probably too risky to try to attach a path to legal status to a DACA measure. However, the Perdue-Cotton Raise Act and funding for some sort of border controls are in the congressional pipelines. Any Republican or Democrat who does not want to share responsibility for these draconian deportations should not vote for any of these measures without amendments to establish a pathway to legal status that ends these groundless deportations.

Common Ground on Immigration

The United States is not the only country in the world that struggles with managing undocumented immigration.  Boatloads of immigrants routinely attempt entrance into Europe over the Mediterranean Sea.  Japan confronts undocumented immigration in the Asian Pacific.  Migration is a universal and continuous human phenomenon. Our country needs an immigration system that works for America.

Both parties have agreed for years that our country urgently needs immigration reform and both parties already agree many policy changes.   I support passing now those reforms on which we already agree.  We have been spinning our wheels on immigration year after year, but passing some reforms now brings some relief to our immigration crisis and moves us forward, hopefully laying the groundwork for further progress later.

Both parties agree we need a new guest worker program.  Americans are eating more and more fruits and vegetables but we are growing less and less.  Labor intensive agricultural production, like fruit, is being plowed up and the production moving off shore because it is becoming too difficult to source immigrant labor here in the U.S. I support moving administration of agricultural workers’ visas from the Department of Labor to the USDA. The Department of Labor has proved itself unable to adequately administer these visas.

Both parties agree undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children should be given legal status and a pathway to citizenship.  How can we deny eventual citizenship to a person who only knows this country as his or her country?

Both parties agree that foreign students who earn degrees from U.S. universities in science, technology, engineering, or math should receive green cards so they can use their education here and benefit the U.S. economy.  The U.S. is only hurting itself and benefiting our competitors when we don’t permit such needed skills to be used in our country.

Both parties agree there should be more visas available for workers with special skills that American companies cannot find domestically.  However, we do need to confirm that America does indeed lack such skilled workers and that companies are not simply refusing to adequately pay for U.S. labor.

The biggest outstanding disagreements are whether or not to create a special path to citizenship, and the degree of border security.  If we would set aside the question of citizenship and agree on a path to legal status, we could pass a great deal of immigration reform right now.  That is far more progress than we have made over the last few years trying to agree on a comprehensive package.