Now that the Senate gang of eight has produced their principles for the reform of the US Immigration system, I decided to add "my two cents" to the debate. I have chosen the acronym R.E.S.P.E.C.T. to expand my ideas on the subject of Immigration reform.
Reality, the first step in the process is recognizing the reality of what the powers that be have allowed to develop, since the last major reform effort in 1986. The reality is, that our system is broken. We have in excess of 11 Million folks who are in the US without authorization. The reality is these people are not going away therefore; something needs to be done to sort out their situation.
Effective, the present system is neither effective nor efficient for the country's labor and security needs in the 21st Century. One thing I am deeply convinced of is this, if we had more ways for people to Immigrate to this country legally, we would take away the temptation for people to jump the border.
Sensible, to those who say that we need to secure our borders first, I say, I agree to having sensible and smart border protection. Please do it in a sensible way as part of a larger approach to overhauling the whole system. (Surely we can chew gum and walk at the same time.)
People, I say to the lawmakers, please remember that our Immigration service is designed to serve people. People are happy to pay for a system that is fair and that provides a good service. Let not politics get in the way of good policy as we move forward.
Empathy, as the faith groups often point out, there are moral reasons for dealing with immigration reform. This is a Nation of good values, based on the founding principles springing from the constitution, that all people are created equal. Our compassion calls us to reach out to help our less fortunate brothers and sisters.
Causes, one aspect of the debate that is often overlooked or neglected is the "push factors" or the causes of migration. We need to examine what we can do to develop programs in the sending countries that help people to support their families.
Total, having studied the topic and listened to the arguments from all sides, I am truly convinced that if our Immigration system is to be efficient, we need to take a comprehensive approach. This will include an enforcement element to ensure that as we go forward people who come here to work are legally eligible to do so.
Respect also means that for those individuals who have broken the law as serious felons can and need to be removed from the jurisdiction. But, respect also needs to extend to providing due process to those who have a genuine case to make before an immigration judge to do so.
In conclusion, I will quote one of the gang of eight, Senator Rubio, Listening to his mother's advice, who advised him to treat immigrants kindly, he said: "I have to balance that humanity with reality," he said. "We have immigration laws. They have to be followed. But yeah, she reminded me that there's a human element to this as well. As a policymaker, you have to strike a balance."
Let's hope that both sides can follow that sound advice and strike a good balance in the new legislation.