At the outset, Congress and the president of the United States must agree that neither partisan politics nor political expediency will be a motivation for their actions on this issue. Further, they must recognize that in spite of lost time and the eagerness to satisfy citizens and the special interests groups, they must take the time necessary to deliberate and thoroughly review options before deciding what is a fair and equitable outcome. Because the issues relating to immigration are complex, it is important that everyone impacted by the new policies understand that to accomplish legitimate comprehensive reform it must be done in phases and may take several years to complete.
Congress should establish a commission of stakeholders, including law enforcement and business owners, to offer recommendations for change. Once an administrative framework is in place, review and implementation should begin.
The first, and most important, task is to secure our borders, seaports, and other points of entry. Experts such as our Israeli counterparts and others should be consulted about best practices relating to staffing strategies, screening techniques, and cutting-edge technologies that will be useful in the development of an effective security plan.
Efforts should be made to enhance the enforcement of our Secure Communities program so that we can strengthen our law enforcement collaboration and double down on apprehending and removing criminal illegal aliens from our neighborhoods. Procedures must be established, and monitored for compliance, to require proof of legal status before an individual is given things such as Social Security cards, and driver’s licenses, contractors’ licenses, and social service benefits.
Lastly, any discussion and consideration of a pathway to citizenship for those illegally in our country should include factors such as employment, criminal history, monetary fines to be automatically withdrawn, taxes, and military service. Further, anyone qualifying for citizenship under the established criteria that is here illegally should not be granted citizenship before those who have legally entered the citizenship process and currently have an application on file.
The urgency of creating a Comprehensive Immigration Reform plan is felt by our citizens who have been asked to pay for the costs associated with healthcare, education, housing, welfare benefits, and incarceration for illegal immigrants. The fundamental responsibility of government is to preserve the well-being of our citizens and provide a reasonable and fair process for those who wish to become citizens.
COVERAGE: Winning Immigration at the Grassroots: Defeating amnesty and restoring common sense
Although government has failed in its most basic responsibility to its citizens, as it relates to immigration reform, we are poised to right the wrong and we must act without further delay.
We must not show willful disregard for our responsibilities as Americans. It is time to embrace our challenge and develop and implement legitimate Comprehensive Immigration Reform in the interests of our security and the preservation of our democracy.
• Thomas M. Hodgson in the Sheriff of Bristol County, Massachusetts.