Republicans and Legal Immigration Reform

Liz Harrison
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Posted: Sep 27, 2014 12:01 AM
Republicans and Legal Immigration Reform

Immigration has been a millstone around the neck of the Republican party for what seems forever because, like so many other hot button issues, the narrative is still being controlled by the Democrats. Now, the problem is that amnesty is being sold as reform, and DREAMers are being used as political pawns, with Obama threatening to wield his pen after the mid-term elections. There isn't anything remotely close to reform involved in the plans being pushed by the Democrats, and the looming executive orders would simply cause a continued flood of immigrants across the southern border.

Real reform hasn't truthfully been on the table in years, and it's uncertain if even the GOP has a clue what it means. The problem is not difficult to see – there are far too many immigrants crossing the border from Mexico and Central America illegally, and the majority will probably end up falling short of the requirements set for DREAMers. Activists blame the government for not allowing individuals that fail to either attain a high school diploma or a GED to benefit from the DREAM Act, even though many would be able to avail themselves of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protections to remain in this country, assuming that they would go back to school. The real problem is that there isn't a great degree of desire on the part of these immigrants to perform well in school – that is conveniently being blamed on the constant threat of deportation.

As for Republicans, they are being demonized in the press if they even whisper about deporting children. A recent casualty of that sort of coverage was Marco Rubio (R-FL), because he had openly confronted DREAMers that had questioned why he wanted to deport them. DREAMers have taken to stalking politicians on both sides of the aisle, as Hillary Clinton discovered on her recent swing through Iowa. The problem is that the focus on illegal immigration is pulling everyone away from the issue that really needs fixing – legal immigration.

Arguably, one reason why we have so many illegal immigrants crossing our borders is because the process for legal immigration is too difficult – and expensive. DACA is another reason, but Ted Cruz (R-TX) has already learned that it's not a great idea to focus on that issue. It is too easy for Democrats to demonize Republicans as uncaring politicians, hell bent on destroying families and opportunities for immigrants. The issue of whether or not anyone has entered the country legally has been lost, and that is why the GOP can theoretically shift this narrative.

The problem with both DACA and the DREAM Act is that neither one is really serving the real needs of the American economy. We have unskilled laborers in abundance, but are in nearly desperate need of workers that are prepared to take positions in the ever-growing high-tech sector. To compound that problem, in many cases the high-tech industry is looking for experienced workers, so even if it was possible to educate many illegal immigrants right now, it wouldn't resolve the issue.

One way to resolve this issue would be to seek out experienced workers worldwide. Unfortunately, due to the hopelessly complex legal immigration procedures companies would have to navigate, that simply doesn't happen with any degree of frequency. As Jeffrey R. Quilhot, a Dallas attorney specializing in immigration law points out, “Unfortunately, the complexity of the current system discourages many employers from even considering foreign workers for positions in the U.S. Those that do have to navigate a system of caps, categories and country requirements which is why immigration law in its complexity has often been compared to tax law.” The problems inherent in the U.S. immigration system do not just affect companies that may prefer to open their options to include hiring across borders. They also are detrimental when it comes to keeping talented people in this country. “The lack of legal immigration options also forces many of our most talented college graduates to leave this country, only after receiving the benefit of a college education in the U.S.,” Quilhot explained.

So, as Democrats are keeping everyone focused on having sympathy on DREAMers, students that entered the country legally on student visas often end up leaving after graduating, because they can't obtain resident visas. Perhaps that might be a little difficult for Republicans to sell to the masses as an example of the deeper problems with immigration in the U.S. If one visits the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website, the procedures for obtaining a Green Card seem fairly straightforward. It is anything but that.

The fact is that legal immigration is even difficult for spouses of U.S. citizens, a class that theoretically should be granted resident visas immediately. That simply isn't the case, primarily because there is a limited number of visas available at any given time. If Republicans would stop letting Democrats control the narrative when it comes to immigration, then maybe there could be a meaningful discussion about why people that bother to follow the law are punished with separation from family members, while a seemingly unlimited number of illegal immigrants are welcomed with open arms.

Also, instead of allowing themselves to be demonized as the people that want to deport everyone, Republicans need to make Democrats explain why they are for DACA, that is arguably putting women and children at the mercy of coyotes that reportedly have been raping them during their journeys north. As opposed to the liberal sloganeering, that is a real war on women, and it is being enabled by Democrats, not Republicans.

Instead of talking about what to do with the illegal immigrants that are already here, and opening the floodgates for even more, there should be a real discussion about immigration reform. The question is whether or not Republicans will have the nerve to even attempt to shift the narrative to where the real problems lie – legal immigration procedures that encourage illegal immigration. It can be assumed that Democrats do not want the public thinking about that issue, because that would mean they would have to address the issue of employment of immigrants. Legal immigration, even as broken as it is, still relies at least in part on whether or not an immigrant can find work in this country. Democrats are only interested in seeming like they are interested in offering educational and employment opportunities to immigrants, but in reality, none of their initiatives truly address those issues. With just a high school diploma or GED set as the high bar for these young people, DREAMers have just unskilled labor in their futures. That isn't much of an American Dream.