Let’s fix our broken immigration system

Let’s fix our Broken Immigration System

by Orlando Sanchez, Founder, Texas Latino Conservatives

While there is widespread agreement that we as a country must come together to fix our badly broken immigration system, the Devil, as they say, is in the details. The problem is that we can’t agree on how to fix it.

But what we can agree on, based on the Biden administration’s own figures, is that more than six million illegal migrants have crossed into the U.S. since Joe Biden became president, and that includes at least 1.5 million so-called gotaways, people seen crossing the border but who were never apprehended or processed into the country.

The last major immigration law passed in the U.S. was the Immigration and Control Act of 1986, commonly known as Simpson-Mazzoli, after Wyoming Republican Senator Al Simpson and Kentucky Democrat Representative Ron Mazzoli. The bill was signed into law by President Reagan. The deal allowed several million “undocumented aliens,” as they were called at the time, who had been living in the U.S. since before January 1, 1982, to be granted “green card” status. There was also a provision for agricultural workers who had been employed for at least 90 days. The other part of the deal was to require all U.S. employers to become the enforcers of U.S. immigration laws by determining that the employees they were hiring were authorized to be here. In addition, the bill provided for a 50% increase in border security.

Since then, Congress has never been able to pass “comprehensive immigration reform.” Smaller things, yes.

The Problem

The problem has been who to let in, what criteria, how much vetting, from what countries, and what happens once they get here. Go on welfare, free healthcare, work visas, how long till a green card, how long till citizenship, what if they snuck in and have been operating in the shadows with fake social security and other ID? And what about the 15, 25, or 40 million who are already here, without legitimate papers? Then there is the whole issue of who to allow to come as refugees seeking asylum. What about having to seek asylum in the country next to you, not just the U.S. because its borders are open and your gift bag is waiting, after you’ve paid the cartels and the coyotes,  and they are holding you hostage to send them money or they will rape or kill your sister?

Should people who break our laws crossing into the country without permission or knowledge of who they are have a better chance of a life in this country than someone from across the ocean who wants to come here and create jobs, be a doctor or an entrepreneur, but now they can’t because we have too many coming across illegally?

Is the current policy of sanctuary cities working? Is filling up hotels and other public facilities in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco any sort of solution? What about the crime, the sex- and child-trafficking, and the impact on local residents and businesses that accompanies it?

No Easy Solutions

I’m not here to tell you that there are easy solutions. But as someone whose family fled Communist Cuba, as asylum seekers in 1962, and who now heads Texas Latino Conservatives (TLC), and who has been the treasurer of one the largest counties in the country, and almost became its mayor, I have some thoughts and opinions on the matter.

The U.S. has been the most generous country in the world based on the number of legal immigrants it accepts every year – about a million. And I fully support that. But what is happening now at our borders is madness. It is harmful and destructive to our country, our fellow citizens, and to the people who make the journey. Yes, of course some of them, maybe many of them, will find the new life they are seeking here, whether through a human connection, a job, a career, a family, a business, a passion. That’s great, but the system that got you here is broken. Many who came here now live and work in slave-like conditions, or choose a life of crime, of gangs, of living in shadows to avoid getting caught in the deportation cycle

We had an incident in Cleveland, Texas, about 50 miles north of Houston, in late April in which an illegal immigrant from Mexico who had been deported 4 times over the past 15 years, shot and killed five Honduran neighbors, including a nine-year-old boy, and the Hondurans were reportedly living here in the shadows as well.

We need a controlled border. A wall in places where it makes sense, humans and technology to patrol the rest, law enforcement to enforce visa overstays, and to make sure that we don’t let people in who want to overthrow our government. At least 80 people from the terror watch list have reportedly been apprehended this year, but the number who have made it through is unknowable.

My Plan

My plan involves ending the phony asylum seekers, people who genuinely want to better their lives, but are prompted to come with a fake asylum script that will guarantee them entry after having set up a meeting through their app. If they say the right words, well, come on in, and go report to this court or that office in 2028, or thereabouts.

We must get rid of the violent criminals, gang members, and drug dealers. Years of hard time here if the other option is deporting them for a week until they can find a new spot to cross back over. When we stabilize that, then it becomes a matter of giving the ones who show a determination to become gainfully employed, to have good character and being responsible, they can become a special legal status but something short of citizenship. No right to vote, in local or national elections.

The U.S. used to pick people who could benefit the U.S. first and foremost, rather than it be a huge welfare magnet country, where you get a hotel room, food, healthcare, and a monthly stipend. We don’t owe that to the billions of people in the world who might want it. Refugees are a specifically defined status, defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) as “an individual who has experienced past persecution or has a well-founded fear of persecution on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion,” with a supposed ceiling of 125,000 per year.

My issue isn’t with people who risk it all to come here, for whatever reason. They are engaging in rational behavior. It is up to our government, primarily at the federal level, to control our borders and determine who is allowed to come here and under what conditions and limitations.

TLC Hispanic Realignment Survey

Through an award-winning survey that TLC has commissioned, we have determined that a majority of Latinos in Texas agree with our plan for moving forward, including tougher border security.

The Texas Hispanic Realignment survey calls for a “Beyond the Wall” strategy for use by Republican candidates and it is based on giving legal status to undocumented immigrant families, who have lived lawfully in Texas, for 7 or more years. This “Family Stabilization Proposal” is not citizenship and, thus non-voting, but allows those illegal immigrant families to gain a legal residence in the United States that provides human dignity without any constraints or prejudices. This new approach for the GOP widens the conversation, which in the recent past, was only a debate between building a wall on the border or amnesty for all those illegal immigrants who “cut in front of the line” and entered into the U.S.

I’m not sure how much time we have as a free and prosperous nation. We can’t take it for granted. Fortunately or unfortunately we are going to have to keep trying to solve this through government. If the federal government can’t come together and create a safe, intelligent and rational system, maybe the states can. I’m not trying to be partisan, just practical and humane. This message and goal is a big part of my story, my passion and why I started this organization. No one person or organization is going to succeed on its own. But only by talking about it, advocating, fighting for it, is it going to happen, hopefully in my lifetime.

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According to Latino Decisions, a left of center polling company, the key issues for Latinos by state was revealed in the following priority way for TEXAS :

1.  Rising Cost of Living

2. Price of Gas

3.  Cost of Health Care

4.  Women’s Reproductive Rights and Abortion Rights

5.  Mass Shootings and Gun Safety Policy

Source: 2022 Midterm Voter Election Poll (sample size: 5,400 Latino register voters) Oct – Nov 2022