It’s Time To Solve The Country’s Immigration Issue

The other day, killing time on a road trip, I listened to a radio interview with David Frum, former speech writer for President George W. Bush. He is a critic of our current president and takes special exception to his appeals of fear about immigrants and his obsession with building a wall.

Yet, Frum rightly claims that it is this “fear” of immigrants which is driving not only the current Republican Party but nationalist parties throughout the Westernized world. Whether we like it or not, America and the democracies of the west have got to deal with it.

It is clear that the Republicans have had a hard time agreeing on immigration policy. They failed under President George W. Bush who had made it one of his top priorities — and that was back when Republicans controlled both the House and the Senate. The current president seems more interested in using it as a “wedge” issue than in solving the problem. It looks like he might make it his key re-election issue.

Frum, himself, is a naturalized citizen from Canada so admits to some personal conflict-of-interest on the issue. And, he posits that it is the Democrats who will likely have to try and propose a solution to the immigration crisis. Going back to Social Security and Medicare, it has been Democrats who have generally been saddled with the obligation of dealing with serious social issues. That is not a forte for Republicans.

Some suggested changes to immigration that have been made are:

¯ Change immigration priorities from personal/family considerations to economic reasons. Currently, 70% of legal immigrants come from family members already here and only 30% of legal immigrants are coming because of their job or economic skills. It would be better for the country if these percentages were reversed.

¯ The actual number of legal immigrants allowed each year could be frozen, set at a number similar to what we had in 1990’s or at some level Congress can agree to.

¯ Combine those changes with finding a solution for the so-called DACA immigrants who were born here though their parents were not citizens.

¯ Put more resources into joint efforts with other countries in providing security in the failed states of Central America where people are fleeing for their lives.

¯ Clarify the asylum laws so that people understand that trying to seek a better life is not the same as seeking political asylum. If seeking a better life becomes a pathway to American citizenship, then half of the developing third world will be seeking American citizenship.

I don’t blame the president for the thousands of refugees piling up on the southern border, any more than I faulted European leaders when thousands were fleeing for their lives from Syria. What I do fault him for is not proposing something other than a “big wall” as a solution. If it is not Central America in crisis, it will be people fleeing from Venezuela or some other failing country. The humanitarian crisis as it is unfolding along the Mexican border is occurring mostly at legal crossing points not from attempts to sneak over the border.

The United States should have immigration policies in place which are understandable, fair and will engender the support of the American people. That takes will, hard work and concrete proposals. We are Americans. We can do this. Let’s get after it!

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.