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Will Trump surprise us with comprehensive immigration reform?

March 4, 2017

Is it possible that Donald Trump will surprise his doubters by becoming a transformational president with immigration reform?immigration2

His speech to Congress last week gives hope. This wasn’t candidateTrump, who won by being negative about almost everything.  It was President Trump, projecting the sense that he may actually be ready to work in positive ways to move the nation forward.

Just as the anti-Communist Richard Nixon surprised the world with his unexpected and historic recognition of China in 1972, the anti-immigration Donald Trump might be uniquely positioned now to achieve much-needed immigration reform.

Congress has been hopelessly deadlocked about immigration reform for decades — primarily because both Democrats and Republicans have shamelessly used the issue for “gotcha” politics — to villainize the other party, divide the country and scare supporters into donating money.

Congress is the problem.  Strip away the partisanship and inject a spirit of compromise, and there are common sense solutions that most Americans could embrace.

If the president leads the way, here are solutions that most reasonable people could support — and therefore force Congress to follow:

Sensible border security. For national security, terrorist prevention, and economic reasons, we must do a better job securing our borders. President Trump may now be realizing that candidate Trump’s “beautiful wall” is impractical and unnecessary.  The job can be done more efficiently with strategic fencing, electronic surveillance, employment verification, better visa enforcement, and improved vetting.

Work permits but not citizenship for those already here. Long-time illegal immigrants who have otherwise been law-abiding and are gainfully employed and self-sufficient should be granted work permits but not citizenship. Work permits would be an acknowledgment that the federal government — with its misguided policies and “nod and wink” lack of enforcement — encouraged many immigrants to enter the country illegally and/or to overstay their visas.

Citizenship for public service.   For those who otherwise qualify, military service or similarly meaningful public service should provide a path to eventual citizenship.

Be choosy.  Because of its freedom and values, America will always have more people wanting in than the country can absorb.  We can—and should—be choosy about who gets in. Our immigration laws can be based on what’s good for America instead of “political correctness”, family connections and lotteries. The immigrants we accept for work permits should be those who have skills our nation needs, a mastery of the English language, and an appreciation of American values.

One Comment
  1. Right on, Joe. Trump naysayers will likely be awestruck and silenced if the man can produce meaningful immigration reform. It’s a huge issue whose resolution requires unique leadership.

    Like

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