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The Galveston Daily News Mast Head Immigration Reform Part 2

Bill Sargent, Mark Mansius and John Gay are writing columns on important issues for today.

House Should Proceed Slowly on Immigration Reform

July 8, 2013

The Senate passed an immigration reform measure which we feel is lacking.  During the 2012 Congressional primary we stressed the need for border security.  Securing the border was, in our minds, a precondition to any road to citizenship.  We believe that people who violate U.S. laws should not benefit from them.  Just like you don’t reward a bank robber by making him the president of the bank, we should not rush to grant citizenship to people who enter our country illegally.

But there is also a human side to this debate. Some of the people who are here illegally were brought here as children.  Many are, or could be, valuable members of our society.  Many are hard workers who are just trying to better themselves and their families economically.  None of us believes it is possible to deport some 14 million people who are here illegally, nor would it be in the best economic interests of our country.

So, what’s next? As we said during the campaign, we should eliminate the federally sponsored “magnets” such as free food stamps, medical care and tuition-free college educations that draw foreigners here. We also believe that state, local and private institutions are better equipped to know the needs of their constituencies and to fulfill those needs. We would favor severe penalties for businesses that hire illegal aliens while balancing this with a legal guest worker program.  We concur with Senator Rubio that speaking, reading, and writing English should be a requirement for citizenship; doing so will help them assimilate into our society.  As an alternative to deporting individuals, perhaps we should consider requiring those who want to become citizens to give back to our nation; community or military service come to mind as possibilities.

We should focus on securing the border before granting any pathway to citizenship.  The Senate bill, which we see as a political move to embarrass the House into action, repeats the failed practices of the 1986 immigration reform law.  Lots of promises of strengthening border security, promises were made but never kept. So, before a pathway to citizenship is implemented we need to ensure the border is secure. Senators Cornyn and Paul had amendments that established triggers and required a Congressional finding that the border was 90% secure before granting citizenship but, unfortunately, these were not adopted.  

We have real issues with the Senate version of this legislation.  Not only does it fail to guarantee the security our borders, it also includes lots of “pork,”  …used to “buy” the votes of Senators who were on the fence?  Most of us think the approach being taken by the House might be better -- dealing with individual issues one at a time -- than passing a bill that, like Obamacare, has about 1,200 pages, most of which have not be read or fully understood by those voting for it.

We encourage the House to reject the Senate bill and to proceed slowly but diligently.  And for the rest of us, we should consider the value those who are here illegally place on being a U.S. citizen.  Doing so might help us better understand the value of the freedoms we enjoy!

Until next week,

Bill, Mark, and John