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The real barrier to immigration reform

In the March 2nd article, New York’s GOP House members patient on immigration reform – by Brian Tumulty, one of the greatest hurdles to immigration reform – and multiple other issues facing our nation – was revealed in a simple statement. The problem is not a question of amnesty for illegal aliens, though that is an important issue that must be dealt with, but an issue that is even bigger and more problematic. A lack of decisiveness and clarity.

In a nation of some 310 million people, that are from every corner of the world, every religion in the world, every anything in the world, there will always be disagreement whenever there is a choice to be made. Part of the job of our elected politicians is to represent and reflect the overall views and ideals of the constituents that elected them. It is also the obligation of the politicians, especially on the Federal level, to present the issues to the public – with their understanding of what is the best choices of action, so that the people can then offer the direction they believe is best for our nation. This is integral to our Government functioning.

This critical system of checks and balance, of the power of the people, fails as voter apathy grows. In the absence of the voice of the people, political parties and special interest groups assert more influence and politicians tend to act first and then dictate that decision to the public.

The flipside of this is in ways worse – the politician fails to take a position and fails to provide guidance to the constituents. The result is generally a last minute decision, based solely on the projected impact on the re-election benefits and detractions for that incumbent.

Both of these things remove the connection of Government and the people, increasing the voter apathy, and creating a self-fulfilling loop of poor leadership, distrust of the Government, and a nation that ultimately follows the wrong path.

Case in point is the abovementioned article. Of the 4 Republicans comments on the issue of immigration reform, only 1 lacked an actual position. Whether or not constituents agree with the positions of 3 of the Republican Representatives is up to them, and in having a position a discourse on what is the right decision for the nation can evolve. But when there is no position, there is no real discussion.

Or, taken from another viewpoint, the Representative without opinion on a critical and sensitive national issue that has been under debate for decades may well disregard the voice and opinion of his constituents to appease whatever special interest makes the best argument. This is NOT how our system is set up.

Rep. Richard Hanna said,

“I honestly haven’t thought about it, and it is a complicated issue. I am on the record multiple times to have immigration reform brought to the floor.”

What does that mean? How does that reflect, in any manner, the opinions and voice of ANY of the constituents in the NY 22nd Congressional District?

Some might be amazed that an incumbent, especially one seeking re-election, would admit they have no opinion on a hot-button, national issue. Some might be concerned that an incumbent, who has many constituents that will be directly affected by any reform, would fail to consider regularly the pros and cons of such a major issue. Others will reflect that such an answer is a perfect position for a politician seeking re-election – as it allows the incumbent to pivot to whatever answer will provide the most votes, and still vote in almost any manner when the time comes.

The NY-22, and the nation, deserve better from our elected Representatives. We deserve clear and concise answers, backed-up by whatever logic the politician has. With luck, given the nature of politicians these days, it should even be a position consistent with what the politician has stated in the past. With extreme luck, it will also be a position that the voters themselves hold.

My opponent may, or may not, be aware that most people I have spoken to in the NY-22 want an immigration reform that will provide farmers with a predictable and definitive workforce, shows compassion for the children of illegal aliens who have no choice in the actions of their parents, and yet holds consequences for willingly violating the law of the land.

A comprehensive immigration reform, for the voters of the NY 22nd Congressional District, must therefore impose a penalty for breaking the law, in addition to NOT providing amnesty, while improving the immigration system for the future.

I have stated before, I believe that any immigration reform should include a $1,000/year fine, require that all illegal aliens currently in the U.S. must register and be placed at the end of the waiting list to become citizens, and that they cannot have any felonies – before or during this process. Most importantly, any legislation should directly state that this act of forgoing further legal incarceration or deportation, under these terms, is a 1 time event and will not be repeated in the future – thus discouraging future illegal aliens from trying to wait out the public patience.

Not everyone will agree with this solution. But that is ok, as it creates an opportunity for debate and discussion among the public. A dialogue allows for the best compromise, legislation that encompasses a respect for the law, the compassion of the American people, and the concerns of business as well as illegal aliens seeking a better future for themselves and their families.

An answer that fails to take a position, whatever that position may be, is sure to be good for re-election bids, but miserably fail to represent even the most slim proportion of constituents.

The failure on immigration is not that there are political sides to the issue, or that there is disagreement on the best course forward. The failure is that too many politicians are jockeying for re-election and failing to take any side – negating the potential for compromise and devaluing the people being represented.

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