Just bring S. 744 to a vote

Fellow columnists, Guy W. Farmer and Chuck Muth, have written columns on immigration issues (June 22 and July 4, respectively) that beg a response. This column is penned with due respect for their opinions but in profound disagreement with the views expressed.

Farmer’s column is replete with such clauses and statements as “President Barack Obama…is pandering to Latino voters,” has a “wink-and-nod attitude” toward border enforcement, is guilty of “selective border enforcement,“ and turns “a blind eye to some illegal immigrants while detaining others.”

Those comments may constitute good rhetoric, but they do not contribute to a constructive dialogue on immigration matters. More importantly, they are not supported by an objective analysis of the issues.

Mr. Obama’s border security program and actions, for example, are stronger than those of any prior president. He has greatly increased the number of border patrol agents to almost 22,000 and has deported two million undocumented immigrants. The president strongly supports the Senate-passed comprehensive immigration reform bill (S. 744) that would, among other things, further increase the number of border agents to at least 38,405 and turn the Mexican-American border into a seeming militarized zone.

If Mr. Obama’s actions supporting the Dream Act have encouraged thousands of children to seek admission to the United States, as Guy contends, that is a small price to pay for a just purpose. But just because they may be trying to come here doesn’t mean they are succeeding. A case in point is the current surge of unattended children coming to our country from Central America. More than 52,000 have been apprehended since October. Under the law, they must be detained in the least restrictive manner until they have a deportation hearing because they do not come from a country that borders the United States. Unlike Mexican immigrants, these children mostly from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador cannot be turned back immediately. That is not “selective border enforcement,” as Farmer alleges. It’s effective border protection in compliance with legal requirements.

Muth essentially limits his comments to immigration reform, which he says most Republicans favor, including many of the provisions of S. 744. He said it could pass tomorrow, except for the path to citizenship provision for undocumented immigrants already in the United States. Interestingly, he says granting citizenship and voting rights to these immigrants would “effectively destroy the Republican Party in many parts of the country.” Muth ended his column by writing “Democrats don’t want real immigration reform. They want a political issue. Pure cynical opportunism that does nothing to fix the problem.” It should be noted S. 744 passed the Senate by a strong bipartisan vote.

Notwithstanding Muth’s comments, President Obama and most Democrats strongly support comprehensive immigration reform that serves national interests and demonstrates humanitarian concern for a class of people, the vast majority of whom only come here to improve their lives.

If Republicans truly want to address our shameful and economically harmful immigration situation, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner only needs to bring S. 744 to a vote.

Bo Statham is a retired lawyer, congressional aide and businessman. He lives in Gardnerville and can be reached at bostatham@me.com.


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