Immigration reform is one of my least favorite topics. Not because I don’t think it’s important. On the contrary, I happen to know it’s an extremely important matter. Regrettably, it also happens to be a topic in which emotions get the better of people, and history regarding previous reform attempts are easily forgotten or dismissed.
I must state that I am not intolerant, uncompassionate, racist or anti-immigration. Nor are most of the people who support a very strict but honest approach to immigration reform. But failure is assured when we forget that the immigration policy of a country must first and foremost benefit the country and its current citizens, which will in turn help to strengthen opportunities for everyone, including new, legal immigrants.
The first fact that must be acknowledged is that we are having this conversation today because people, for whatever reason, entered our country illegally or overstayed their once-legal visit. Too many people, mostly on the extreme left, choose to dismiss this issue as if it were irrelevant. Or worse, they point to the few heart-wrenching examples as to why a person might flee their original homeland and enter the United States illegally, all in an effort to justify the actions of criminal aliens. That is disingenuous and intellectually dishonest.
I am well aware that there are circumstances in a person’s life that drive them to flee a terrible situation, and we have provisions in our immigration policy to address those crisis issues. Just as we as U.S. citizens are expected to respect the rule of law while we’re visiting a foreign country, we should be afforded that same adherence to our laws. If your very first act is to enter a country illegally, especially when that act is committed by an overwhelming majority of people who are not fleeing political persecution or force majeure, then we should not be surprised if they are treated as criminals — just as an American would be, and most times far more harshly, if they committed the same act in a foreign nation. The rule of law is not easy, but it is vital to the sovereignty of a fair and just nation like the United States.
The second fact we must painfully acknowledge is that we’ve been here before as a nation. Those of us who are well aware of past attempts to reform our broken immigration system are not clinging to these past failures out of spite, but because we don’t want to repeat the same mistake. If you truly believe in comprehensive, commonsense immigration reform, yet choose to ignore the mistakes, lies and broken promises that were made from past immigration reform, you are either a fool or being dishonest about your true intentions regarding real immigration reform.
The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act was authored by Sen. Ted Kennedy and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. The act was needed because of the failure of another immigration act championed by Kennedy, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, and the failed immigration act of 1968. Starting to notice a pattern here? History repeated itself because of poor legislation that relied on the broken promises of politicians.
The 1986 act granted amnesty to roughly 3 million criminal aliens, a majority from Mexico, and required many of the same rules “promised” within the Gang of Eight Immigration reform of 2013. But if we were to give a pass or fail grade to the promises made in 1986, this is what it would look like:
We were promised that provisions in the 1986 law would cut off the magnet of jobs for criminal aliens. Additionally, we were told that the 1986 law would crack down on employers who hired illegal workers, and that these employers would be punished. Grade: F
We were promised that the immigration reform of 1986 would ensure Americans would get first crack at jobs in this country. Grade: F.
We were promised the border would be secured. Today, there can be no denying that our borders are woefully unsecured. Grade: F.
We were promised that after legalizing 3 million criminal aliens in 1986, there would never be another amnesty. Grade: F.
So here we stand again, trying to enact immigration reform. The very same people who promised us immigration reform in the past, and went about crafting legislation they knew would fail, are standing before us again, dismissive of their past failures and promising us that this time will be different.
An overwhelming majority of Americans want to see immigration reform. But recent polls indicate that the number one issue to immigration reform is that more than 75 percent of voters want first and foremost to strengthen border security and stop additional illegal entry into the country. Any new immigration reform that does not set clear and honest enforcement policies will be seen as a failure by a majority of Americans, and they will not support it. Sadly, the current 2013 immigration reform effort being championed by the Gang of Eight in the U.S. Senate, and supported by N.H. Sens. Shaheen and Ayotte, fail on this and many other issues.
Next week I will talk about the misconceptions, lies and weaknesses of the pending Gang of Eight immigration reform.