No simple answers to immigration reform


Facebook recently conducted a test to see if people on different sides of the issue could have civil discussions. The project, called “Talking Across Borders,” put 60 people in a “private Facebook group” to test the ability of people to have a civil discussion about immigration.

Facebook reports that the test proved people could have a civil discussion about the issues involved, but that no minds were changed. 

“The goal was not to change minds,” said Eve Pearlman, co-founder of the Project. “The goal is to support people listening to and thinking about other people’s views and perspectives and to do so in a way that avoids hostility, name calling and meanness that tends to dominate in online forums.”

There is no doubt that our immigration laws are out of date. But failing to enforce our laws makes a mockery of our entire government and our representative democracy.

The problem is that it appears our elected representatives apparently have no desire to address the failings of our current system of immigration. Preferring instead to use the issue as a way to divide the country. 

Each side of the political debate attempts to define the issue in the most divisive terms possible. For example, if you support elimination of the DACA program you are a racist and if support open borders then you hate America. Neither one of these positions is helpful in solving the problem. 

First, we cannot allow just anyone to come here. It threatens our culture and in today’s world the safety of our citizens. 

On the other hand, opposing illegal immigration does not make you a hateful racist.

The truth is we need some immigration to help our economy thrive and grow. It doesn’t matter what race the immigrant is but we do need to look at what skills and talents the immigrant brings with them. This is especially true when the labor participation rate is low as it is today. Citizens should get preference for available jobs. Immigration should be based on the skills and abilities the individual brings to our country. If citizens can’t or won’t do the work then we need to find carefully controlled systems that helps fill the need.

Immigration towards citizenship should be based on a merit system. Where the immigrant brings skills that are in short supply among our existing citizenry. 

Low skilled immigrants should be given work visas that limit their stay and only when they have secured a job. The job would have to be reported to the Immigration Department and the employer would be required to notify Immigration when the individual’s employment has ended. The worker would then have a fixed amount of time to secure an exit visa or be subject to arrest.

Chain migration must be outlawed. In other words, immigrants do not get to bring in their entire extended family. That is one of the problems with DACA. Once they are given some official status they can bring their entire families here. 

All of this needs to be enforced with improved border security – including a wall in some areas.

Immigration is a difficult issue but calling each other names and ignoring the fact that there must be limits and controls placed on who, where and when someone can immigrate here must be addressed. 

The problem here is if we don’t think the law is fair then we need to call on our representatives to change it. Then we need to demand they do it. The current political practice of using this as a wedge issue to divide Americans must end.

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