Roaring Fork citizens on immigration reform
Editor’s note; This letter was originally addressed to Sen. Michael Bennett and Sen. Cory Gardner.
Prompted by the egregious stalemate pervading our government, a group of concerned, well-informed, citizens from the Roaring Fork Valley, representing strong, opposing conservative and progressive viewpoints, met recently at the Aspen Institute campus in Colorado, in an attempt to prove that rational thinkers can find common ground to bridge ideological/political chasms in this chaotic climate.
We discussed our nation’s immigration policy with the goal of finding points of agreement. We reached unanimity on the following:
• Our immigration system is unacceptable and should be changed.
• The changes should include all illegal immigrants, not only Dreamers
• It is impractical to deport all individuals now in our country illegally.
• Immigration is important and advantageous for our economy.
• For our country’s security, it is essential to secure our borders against illegal immigration and to establish permanent border security in appropriate forms.
• A “guest worker” program is important to provide labor needed, for short periods, by our economy.
• Every member of the current “illegal” immigrant population should be identified and provided with personal identification and legal status as long as they remain law abiding and/or productive.
• This should include a reasonable path to citizenship for such members. Leaving almost eleven million residents, many of them Dreamers, friends and neighbors, shackled to fear and uncertainty lacks the degree of compassion expected from Americans
• Those present in our country illegally who commit criminal acts should be punished in the criminal justice system and deported.
Several participants directed our attention to the 2013 comprehensive, bi-partisan immigration bill that was advanced by the so-called Senate Gang of Eight but the Speaker of the House wouldn’t even allow it to come up for a vote.
Because none of us is expert in all the details of the 2013 bill, we did not attempt to reach consensus that every aspect of that bill should be enacted, but we did agree, unanimously, that the 2013 bill would provide an excellent starting point for rational immigration reform because it included all the following fundamental points.
1. Significant funding for increased border security
2. Defining the status of illegal immigrants living in the United States – rejecting those with criminal or poor working records
3. Requiring fines to be paid, totaling $2000 per individual, making this program self-financing
4. Providing a path to citizenship over a period of 19 years (faster for Dreamers)
5. Beefing up the E-Verify program, which will, of itself, add significant deterrence to illegal entry.
We have submitted this to you to demonstrate that citizens of widely divergent political points of view can reach agreement on immigration policy. We urge Senators and Congressmen to do the same.
Please do not ignore this!
Don Flaks, Parker Maddux, Stephen Chase, James Psaki, Eric Smith, Shawna Foster, Maurice Emmer, Frieda Wallison, Glenn Beaton, James Surls, Arvid Johnson, Enis Alldredge, Jim Light, Peter Waanders
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