Candidates for Congress are making the rounds these days, looking for votes in Novembers election. They are talking about the many good things they have done in the past and will do in the future.
When they come by your place, ask them a simple question: So hows immigration reform going?
Youll hear all sorts of excuses, blame placed on the other party and a general effort to duck the question.
Youll also likely hear the statement that nothing will be done on immigration until after the election.
Which means, of course, that he, or she, has no intention to address any time soon an issue of overarching importance to the nation and to many people involved in agriculture.
While members of Congress dilly-dally, the immigration issue gets worse.
An estimated 12 million people continue to live in limbo, unable to obtain legal work, or to return to their home country.
Farmers and ranchers who rely on the H-2A guestworker program are vexed at every turn by court rulings and bureaucratic roadblocks, making the program more expensive and less workable. Most recently, a federal judge ruled that livestock operations cannot pay herders monthly salaries for their work on the range, promising more uncertainty and lawsuits.
Children by the thousands are flooding the borders, creating a humanitarian and bureaucratic quagmire.
No one benefits from the status quo, yet Congress continues to duck and cover. Members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, are paid to tackle the tough issues, and immigration reform is as tough as it gets. But in its inaction, Congress forgets two important points.
First, the immigration mess will only get worse with time, making it even harder to resolve in the future.
Second, once they back away from the extreme positions held by both sides of the issue, members of Congress will find a broad middle ground that allows the issue to be fairly, and effectively, addressed.
At one end of the spectrum are those who say illegal immigrants should be immediately granted citizenship, even though many do not meet the most basic requirements, such as speaking English.
At the other end of the spectrum are those who would like to round up all 12 million illegal immigrants ship them home. Exactly how that would happen, they dont say, since it would require an army of federal agents.
In the middle are a handful of key concepts:
Control the borders. Without that, there can be no immigration regulation.
Pay a fine. Those illegal immigrants who have been convicted of no crimes since arriving should pay a fine over the next 10 years. They broke federal law when they arrived illegally, and that cannot be ignored. Anyone convicted of a felony since arriving should be deported.
Learn English. It is a requirement for citizenship, so every permanent resident should learn it.
Once the other reforms are in place, employers should adopt an eVerify system to make sure every employee, temporary or permanent, is in the country legally.
Reform the H-2A system to take the politics and the nonsensical requirements out of it. It should not take months to apply for and obtain needed temporary workers from overseas. If a farmer has a shortfall, he should be able to obtain help quickly. That way, domestic workers would have the opportunity to work without worrying about being displaced, and farmers will get the help they need. Year-round workers should also be included in the program.
These are the ways to resolve the major sticking points on immigration reform. We urge our readers not to vote for any congressional candidates who lack the fortitude to tackle this critical issue.