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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Head to Head: Republicans and Democrats debate immigration

    Amber Hunt, UA Young Democrats

    Immigrants are not stealing jobs. Instead, these are the individuals who have contributed to the identity of this country and who continue to promote an image of a diverse and thriving nation.

    Knowing that, it makes sense that immigration reform has become a priority for the current administration. But the past six years of attempts have been futile due to the deadlock in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

    When it comes to immigration reform, both sides agree it is imperative to address border security given the escalated crime rate and illegal activity occurring in the area. The U.S. Border Patrol clearly needs to receive additional support from the federal government; it continues to face immense difficulties in processing the high rate of undocumented immigrants attempting to cross over.

    But no matter how much money we give the Border Patrol, the broken immigration system will continue to create incentives for people to cross over, and no technology in the world can properly monitor a nearly 2,000 mile-long desert border. We have to find other, concurrent policy solutions.

    So let’s talk about the most contentious point in discussions about immigration reform: amnesty, or Republican-speak for the creation of a pathway to legal status for undocumented people who are already living and working in the U.S.

    It’s simply not plausible or practical — or humane — to attempt to deport all 11 million of these undocumented residents. Like the border security issue, there simply isn’t enough money or technology in the world to make such a plan possible. So why do Republicans continue to tout impossibilities as policy?

    Instead, we should focus on legislation like the DREAM Act, which provides relief to youth brought to the U.S. illegally as young children who have since made this country their home, graduating from U.S. universities or joining the U.S. military. We should offer these young people access to citizenship rather than displacing them into “native” countries they’ve never known.

    We need immigration policies that recognize the realities and find a solution that makes the best of those realities. Republicans try to ignore those realities to profit politically off of divisive rhetoric, espousing policies that could never be implemented.

    On the issue of legal immigration, Democrats and Republicans are able to find more common ground. Members of both parties tend to agree the process needs to be expedited and reformed to provide incentives for skilled workers. The current system is complicated and there are needlessly protracted backlogs for citizenship applications and visas, which creates an environment where illegally entering the country is preferable to the long wait. Countries like Canada and Japan give preferential treatment to skilled workers during the immigration process, and a similar system should be implemented here. Immigration would be restricted to these types of immigrants, but it would be a step towards ensuring quick integration of immigrants who can enhance the productivity of our economy.

    While such reforms are supported, at least in theory, by both parties, the deadlock caused by the Republican-controlled Congress has prevented them from being implemented. However, while comprehensive reform may be desirable, it may be time to accept the possibility of smaller reforms for these problems. No doubt they will still be opposed by the far-right of the Republican Party, but the Democratic Party will keep fighting for comprehensive immigration reform.


    Caleb Rhodes, UA College Republicans

    Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” These lines have come to define a country that was founded and built by immigrants who left their home countries seeking freedom and a better life. People of all nationalities built the beautiful tapestry that we now call America.

    Today, our immigration system faces challenges. We must overcome these challenges and create a better immigration system in order to remain faithful to that original vision of America.

    Our immigration system today is broken and dysfunctional. Wait times to immigrate to the U.S. are massive. There are over 4.5 million individuals on the immigration waitlist. Many have to wait for years or even decades to come to this nation legally. Millions of individuals have turned to human smugglers to bring them into the U.S. illegally. It is estimated that there are nearly 12 million people in the country illegally, with hundreds of thousands more attempting to enter every year.

    The importance of ensuring immigrants enter legally cannot be understated. Immigrants who enter illegally live in the shadows. They are often victims of crimes but fear reporting them as they could be deported. It is of the utmost importance that we reform our immigration system and secure the border.

    First and foremost, the process to enter the U.S. must be streamlined and reformed. One of the most important aspects of the system that is in need of reform is that of immigration quotas. The present system sets a limit on the number of people that may enter from each country each year. The limits make it incredibly difficult for new immigrants to enter the U.S. More immigrants should be permitted each year into the country, and quotas based on countries should be eliminated. The guest worker program should be expanded, allowing those who wish to work for short periods of time in the U.S. to do so.

    We must also ensure our immigration system allows the best and brightest people of the world to come to this country. The U.S. and its free market system allows hard-working and innovative immigrants to thrive. Immigrants are responsible for founding countless companies: Think Sergey Brin of Google or Pierre Omidyar of eBay. Under our current system, immigrants come to the U.S., receive a college education and then are forced to return to their home country. This is insanity. Students who spend years in the U.S. getting an education should be encouraged to stay and should have the opportunity to get their green card.

    We must not, however, forget that border security is also an essential part of solving our problem. A porous border not only is a major humanitarian issue, but it also is a national security risk. Drugs can be brought into the country and individuals can be smuggled into the country. We must employ new technologies, the strategic use of fencing and additional border guards.

    The great country we now live in was built by immigrants. We must reform our system to make it easier for immigrants to come legally, and our border must be secured. A better legal immigration system will improve life for all of us and allow more people to become a part of the American dream.

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