^ Senator Graham has been an unshakable advocate for immigration reform. Let’s make it happen — and do it now.
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Some of you may not like that we’re willing to compromise on immigration issues.
So let me make one thing immediately clear : our compromise recommendation is not occasioned by the heartless man who occupies the presidency. He can rant however he likes; the more relevant obstacle is anti-immigrant sentiment in the Congress. Immigration reform must get 60 votes in the Senate — to overcome a filibuster — and a majority in the House. Somehow those of us who value immigrants from all walks of life, and from all corners of the globe, must find a way to win those votes.
Here is our suggestion :
( 1 ) pathway to citizenship — a term of from five to 12 years, whichever works — for all immigrants brought into the country as children, under age 18 at the time of their entry, no matter how far back in time that entry occurred, provided that said immigrants are free of significant criminal history (motor vehicle violations and drug-use convictions do not count).
( 2 ) automatic citizenship for any immigrant, legal or otherwise, who completes two tours of active combat duty in our armed forces
( 3 ) all persons residing in America under a “temporary protected status” executive order in force as of January 20, 2017, and free of significant criminal history, shall be eligible for “green card” legal permanent residency. Same shall also be eligible to apply for citizenship after five years from the date of the enactment of this legislation.
( 4 ) family reunion immigration shall be limited to spouses and children of such applicants.
( 5 ) “HB-1” special permit visas shall continue.
( 6 ) $ 8 billion shall be set aside, at a rate of $ 1 billion every year for the next eight years, for studying border security measures that may or may not recommend a “wall.” Such measures as are found to be effective shall be authorized and sufficient funds appropriated to enable them.
( 7 ) guest worker visas shall continue, so that farms do not lack for seasonal harvesting workers.
( 8 ) vetting measures in force as of January 20, 2017, for judging visa and refugee applications, shall continue in force. Refugee numbers shall be determined by the President subject to express approval by the State Department, Homeland Security, and the Treasury.
( 9 ) the President shall have full power to institute travel bans from nations of his choosing, but no such ban shall discriminate against a religion, nor shall it go into effect without the express approval of the State Department, Homeland Security, and the Treasury, and any such ban shall be limited to three months only, not to be renewed without good and sufficient evidence provided.
( 10 ) ICE shall retain full power to enforce immigration laws, but in no case shall any ICE agent apprehend any green card holder, “DACA”-eligible person, or persons with a valid pending citizenship application. ICE shall prioritize persons with significant criminal history, or whose involvement with a criminal enterprise poses an immediate threat to the peace and safety of the community in which he or she is present; and ICE shall publish, and make widely known, its enforcement priorities in writing. ICE may hold arrested persons in custody, but in no event shall any person held in custody be denied any rights or privileges accorded other types of Federal prisoners awaiting trial. All persons charged or arrested by ICE shall have full access to legal representation and be accorded all due process rights enumerated in the Constitution. ICE shall in no event arrest or search the effects of any person except in full accord with the rights and sanctions set forth in Amendment Three, Four, Five, Six and Eight to the Constitution.
The above does not read much like a compromise, but it is one. I am accepting immigration hard-liners limitation of the family reunion program, and I am offering billions of dollars to study and put into effect such border security measures as are deemed useful.
However, in exchange for accepting these two “pillars” of immigration reform, as the hard-liners put it, I endorse significant liberality about who, of all current undocumented, or partially protected, immigrants, will receive more permanent protection. There’s no sense at all in tearing families apart or expelling from the nation people who have played an integral part in our economy and society for what may be decades of years.
Democrats may not like it, but the lead here will come from Republicans. Can enough Republican Senators and Congressmen coalesce around any kind of sensible, workable reform ? Probably not, without a major push from the nation’s major business interests.
That push is likely to be there :
Senators McCain and Coons have introduced a basic immigration bill that meets some of my ten points. There is plenty of public support for the facets of their bill. The business community — often a progressive force in our nation’s governance, and very effective at it — also supports a policy of expanding immigration, not lessening it. How difficult can it be for the nation’s chambers of commerce and major corporations to marshal support for measures that expand the nation’s customer base, encourage the most enterprising of our residents, and stabilize communities where cultural and religious multiplicity are norms ?
Business progressivism has, in state after state, from Indiana to Arkansas to Texas, turned back much of the recent wave of exclusionary legislation. I see no reason why business progressivism can’t win the day for sensible immigration reform. In any case, it’s a damn well worth making the effort. Now.
—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere