With the election over and Republicans keeping control of Congress while also securing the White House, our nation has an opportunity to finally fix our broken immigration system, secure our borders, and deal with those living in the United States illegally.
To date, both sides have refused to budge on their positions, resulting in no compromises—and neither side getting anything they want. Continued failure to solve this problem will put an unacceptable and unnecessary financial burden on state governments, local governments and taxpayers, who absent congressional action are the ones who pay for education and social services for illegal residents in their communities. (Just educating children not lawfully present in my County of Fairfax, Virginia costs our school system well over $100,000,000/yr!)
After more than a decade of discussion with nothing to show for it, without compromise, nothing will happen. (Note: Just because there is a House and Senate controlled by Republicans does not mean that a “Republican only” solution can be passed. A bill needs 60 votes in the Senate and the Republicans only have 52 Senate seats).
The time to act is now. I say this as a Republican with a clear record of fighting against amnesty.
Not only was I the first legislator in the U.S. to pass a law requiring people to be legally present in order to get a driver’s license, I also carried the law in Virginia that requires adults to be legally present in the U.S. to qualify for non-emergency taxpayer benefits. In addition, I sponsored the Virginia law that requires all people arrested for crimes to be checked for legal status, and was the primary force behind Virginia’s e-verify law.
So I am no “softie” when it comes to immigration reform.
However, I am also a realist. Practically speaking, it would be impossible to deport all of the 12 million illegal immigrants living in our nation. At the same time, it is equally impossible that we leave our borders unsecure. I believe that lawmakers and citizens of both parties can find common ground on this issue, if both are willing to compromise on certain aspects of their positions. From the conservative point of view, such a compromise must be predicated on two conditions:
- Our borders must be secure (via a physical wall, virtual wall, or any other effective solution).
- Those with criminal records must be deported.
Only when these two conditions are met—and verified by agreed-upon metrics—should we consider allowing some of those not lawfully present in our country (e.g. those who have paid taxes and/or children who grew up in the US) to remain and acquire some type of legal status. Such a solution is not perfect from either side’s perspective, but it could actually pass Congress in 2017. Under this scenario, everyone wins—those here illegally who are law abiding and pay taxes can come out of the shadows, our borders will finally be secure so the tide of illegal immigration will be halted, and criminal illegal immigrants will no longer be allowed to live among us.
You can tell from my record of leadership on fighting illegal immigration, that if I had my way, we would have a wall, the criminal illegal immigrants would, after serving their prison time, be deported and barred forever from re-entry into the US, and all 12 million illegal immigrants would somehow be deported and have to re-petition under the rule of law to get back in. But I don’t want to complain. I want a solution! So I am willing to compromise in order to secure our borders and kick out criminal illegal immigrants. Now, I am sure that as soon as this article is published there will be Republican nay-sayers who attack this idea because they refuse to accept anything other than 100% of what they want.
But their lack of finding a solution that will actually pass Congress is creating the exact opposite of what they want: de facto amnesty and porous borders. The same thing goes for the inevitable Democrat nay-sayers who will attack this article. Their demand for nothing but open borders and amnesty for everyone leaves the hard working and otherwise law abiding illegal immigrants nowhere. Like the Republican nay-sayers, the Democrat nay-sayers refusal to find a solution that will pass is preventing citizens who want to get their loved ones into this country from ever being able to have their children, spouses or parents be legally in the US.
Further delay is unacceptable. And without a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, Republicans have little chance of passing a bill of their own. Compromise is necessary in order for our nation to be preserved. No nation can survive without borders. The time for action is now.