If we are led to believe that the results of a local election with 12 percent voter turnout in a single congressional district (one out of 435) with a mere 65,000 votes cast is all that it takes to disrupt a necessary and important national policy debate, then America is in big trouble—not just on this issue, but on a whole range of issues.
I certainly hope that is not the case.
As a Republican, it’s my view that efforts to complete immigration reform should be led by our party. Some on the outer fringes of the GOP may disagree, but the truth is we are humans first and partisans second. Frankly, the Democrats don’t have a monopoly on having hearts.
While I do not practice or promote illegal behavior, the reality is that 11 million illegal immigrants are currently in this country. Let’s face it, the United States does not have a process—real or imaginable—to deport 11 million people from within our borders. Those who favor the deportation of every person here illegally must understand that this position simply is not realistic. There is no wave of a magic wand that could accomplish such a task.
Nor should there be.
[Fact: Ike, Republican President Eisenhower and Democrat President Truman used Border Guards, Local and State Law Enforcement to deport 2.3 Million illegals to save American jobs:
Democrat President Truman deported 3.4 Million illegal immigrants, saying
"Everyone suffers from the presence of these illegal immigrants in the community.":
Most of the immigrants who are here illegally came for the same reason as those who are here legally—a chance to make a better life for themselves and their families. They came heeding the famous words of poet Emma Lazarus that have welcomed generations of immigrants, including my parents, to the United States as they pass the Statue of Liberty and her golden torch: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free … Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.”
Poll after poll shows the majority of Americans support immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship.
[Recent Rasmussen Poll: Majority of Americans Do Not Favor Higher Legal Immigration
So, let’s put the political nitpicking aside and deal with the situation.
Let’s start by instituting a process in which all undocumented immigrants receive permits to legally work here. Let’s provide them with the opportunity to get driver’s licenses and bank accounts—simple things that we all take for granted. The immigrants here illegally need jobs, want to work and are willing to take on jobs that are not appealing to many Americans. Additionally, many of them are exploited because of their illegal status in this country.
Let’s also create a path to success for the 65,000 young people who graduate each year from high school and who, despite having been born in this country, find their path to college blocked by the “illegal immigrant” classification. We need more people in this country earning advanced degrees and putting that education to work here. As a businessman, I would certainly prefer that as opposed to educating them here and have them go somewhere else to compete against us.
We also need more robust and effective measures to secure our borders and enforce our laws, so that we do not exacerbate the problem in the future.
Finally, with the exception of Native Americans, we are all immigrants or descendents of immigrants. Let us determine a long-term path to citizenship that is unambiguous. For us to do anything less would be a repudiation of the very foundation that has made America the world’s greatest melting pot.
Let’s not pretend, either, that every person here illegally is some malicious character with no regard for our laws.
[36,007 illegal immigrants charged with 88,000 crimes including kidnapping, murder and rape were released in 2013, while an American Combat Marine Veteran remains chained to a prison bed in Tiajuana:
In 2005, the US Government Accounting Office found 27% of inmates in prisons were non-citizens, most of them from Mexico, at a taxpayer cost of $2.5 Billion a year:
For instance, I am familiar with a situation in which a father brought his children to the United States and stayed here on a recurring visa. After many years, the father remarried and a son, who is more than 18 years old, is now considered to be here illegally. This young man has lived nearly every day of his life in the United States, but he is haunted by the prospect of being sent to a country whose customs and cultures he does not understand and whose language he does not speak. There must be innumerable cases like his.
My parents immigrated to the United States from Eastern and Northern Europe, and my siblings and I were born here. Had my parents brought me here as an undocumented infant, would I now be subject to deportation, even as a senior citizen? The thought of the traumatic impact that would have on my family is inconceivable to me—and I’m a wealthy man. It’s not realistic to think that deporting 11 million people wouldn’t have an even more devastating and heartbreaking effect on countless multi-generation families living here together.
As I said at the beginning, I’m a law-abiding citizen, and I am certainly not advocating any type of illegal action. I am, though, advocating a dose of reality for those who use 11 million people for political gamesmanship.
If you are an American citizen, the chances are it’s because someone in your family came to the United States in pursuit of a better life for themselves and their descendants.
Generations of immigrants came here and became productive and respected citizens, with many giving their lives to protect this country.
Let’s reassure all of those who came before us and are now looking down from above that the principles undergirding America’s foundations live on. Let’s not close the door on those “yearning to breathe free.”