Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What Will You Do About Immigration, Congressman?

Congressman Henry Waxman won reelection in the tightest, closest campaign of his career. Like President Barack Obama, he hardly has a mandate. 53% of voters in the 33rd Congressional District agreed to send him back to Washington. With a district which is 44% Democratic and 28% Republican, clearly Waxman lost a great deal of support from Democrats and Independents.

Back in Congress, Waxman must prove all the bipartisan pledging that he made so frequently throughout the campaign. He has blamed Republicans for "premium support", for their anti-environmental stance, yet once again he is a ranking member in the opposition caucus. He has to go along to get along.

Now, one of the most pressing problems of our time is illegal immigration. For all the issues which came up for discussion in the Santa Monica Bay, this concern received no attention throughout the drawn-out election. Waxman is back in office, and now he has to deliver. What has he proposed to do about this vexing problem? Individual workers and families are looking for a better life. What do we do about those younger people who were brought to this country, who had no say whether they could come or not, who now live in the United States, yet they are not longer citizens?

The California DREAM Act has become more of a nightmare, since the law provided a college education at the in-state rate for these undocumented youth, yet nothing else. A graduate from a four-year University without citizenship cannot get a job. The whole program was a hoax, a lot of political posturing that has benefitted a handful of politicians at the expense of the immigrant youth who want a more stable life.
Then there was President Obama's Executive Order, which will prevent the United States from prosecuting or deporting young illegals who came to this country as children, who have graduated from high school, who have committed no crime. The lines for provisional papers are long and frustrating. Immigration lawyers have discouraged youth for applying for the provisional protection.

just a few days ago, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders described one case which highlighted the complex, intersecting issues which accompany immigration. Saunders just reported that a citizen with temporary legal status, yet unlicensed, ran over Drew Rosenberg of Westlake Village, a law student studying in San Francisco. He was run over and killed by Roberto Galo,  who had already been stopped once, and his car impounded, for driving without a license. Up  to now, it appears that undocumented residents and "temporary legal" residents have profited from the sanctuary city polices of The City by the Bay. Although Galo commited vehicular manslaughter, (backing up over the victim, according to witnesses), the judge presiding over the case reduced the charges. Galo was then sentenced to six months in prison.

Don Rosenberg, the son of the slain law student, appealed to Congressman Waxman's office:

Rosenberg asked Rep. Henry Waxman's office to make sure Galo would be deported. Waxman aides tell me that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement told them that Galo was guilty of only one crime of moral turpitude — manslaughter.

So, Galo gets to stay because of his "temporary legal status," even though he killed a young man, a resident of Southern California.

Congressman Waxman cannot hide behind a flurry of letter-writing, as he had done in the past. This country needs comprehensive immigration reform now. So far, two former Republican Senators, Mel Martinez of Florida and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, offered a plan which would permit a three-tiered grouping of illegal immigrants. Recent arrivals, two years or fewer, would be forced to leave the country. Individuals who had lived in the country for a decade or more would be granted a pathway to citizenship, and immigrants who had been living in this country for twenty years or more would receive automatic citizenship.

I offer this example only to demonstrate that there is plenty of opportunity for serious compromise on this issue. Instead of attacking immigrants who are seeking a better life than in their home countries, the federal government needs to do away with the easy subsidies from the government.

Free market economist Milton Friedman's pithy remarks on the immigration issue deserves more attention:
 "It is one thing to have free immigration to jobs. It is another thing to have free immigration to welfare. You can't have both."

No fences, just proper security along our borders instead of along the borders of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Welfare reform which permits the states to enforce the rule of law and prevent illegal immigrants from taking advantage of the system, and authority for public schools to demand proof of citizenship before enrolling students. These reforms will encourage legal immigration, discourage criminality and illegal immigration, and put to rest 90% of the problems associated with this vexing issue.

So, what do you say, Congressman? Are you going to lead on this issue or not?

Residents of the 33rd Congressional District, please contact Congressman Waxman about the Rosenberg tragedy and demand that he press for comprehensive, bipartisan immigration reform.

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