Our Immigration System is Broken

The United States has a unique immigration history, starting with George Washington whose officers issued orders at Valley Forge in both English and German.  Our native communities – here in Alaska and elsewhere – are the only original Americans. We need a rational immigration system worthy of our successful immigrant heritage.  Congress has ignored this issue for decades.  Everyone agrees that our immigration system is broken.  We cannot afford to wait any longer, and as your U.S. Senator, I will make immigration reform a priority.

Enforcement Comes First

We must enforce our immigration laws and exclude individuals who are not legally entitled to enter the country.  Despite all the talk about a bigger, taller border wall, a large portion of unauthorized individuals enter legally but then fail to leave once their legal status expires.  An effective use of our money would be to improve reporting systems to ensure that those who are supposed to leave do so.

We Need Smart Immigration Laws

Beyond enforcement, we should rationalize our immigration system by allowing entry of individuals who will actually help grow our economy.  For example, Alaska companies face irrational and unpredictable immigration hurdles attempting to bring in key personnel such as seasonal Japanese salmon roe technicians.  The inability to bring the right people in at the right time threatens American jobs like those of Alaska fishermen who depend on specialized roe technicians to process the fish they catch.   

We Cannot Deport 11 Million People

It is unrealistic for politicians to promise to deport the approximately 11 million unauthorized individuals in the United States, most of whom arrived during the decades of lax border and overstay enforcement.  It would take a lifetime and cost billions of dollars to deport all these people. An individual in a deportation proceeding is entitled to a hearing, so the federal government would have to exponentially increase the number of immigration judges and immigration court facilities to handle the deluge of hearings.  And it would still take untold years to process all these cases.

Some may suggest we should not give individuals facing deportation a hearing, but due process is the bedrock of our legal system and the government not infrequently errs and attempts to deport (or actually deports) individuals who are legally entitled to be here or who are U.S. citizens.  I have seen the government err many times.

Many undocumented individuals have lived here for decades and have U.S. (and Alaska) citizen spouses and children.  Many are children who have grown up in the United States and know no other country.  Most Alaskans agree that it makes sense to bring individuals out of the shadows if they have lived here for many years, are law abiding, have learned English, and pay any back taxes.

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