By Raoul Lowery Contreras
President Trump apparently does not want to solve the immigration fiasco America lives with.
The last real and sincere effort to reform immigration was killed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, with full acquiesce of newly elected Illinois Senator Barack Obama. That immigration reform was sponsored by President George W. Bush back in 2006 and 2017.
If Trump is serious and really wants a decent immigration system, he would immediately set aside a weekend at Camp David in Maryland and invite the congressional leadership of both parties, including committee chairs, relevant cabinet members with their chiefs of staff, generals and admirals of the military branches, and top intelligence officials.
Trump would tell the assemblage he wanted a consensus bill by the end of the meeting, and that they would meet until the bill was drafted and no one could leave until the bill was signed off by a majority. He would then tell them that he would schedule a national television speech from the White House in prime time and that each of their names would be listed as supporters of the bill.
The President would endorse the bill during the speech. He would ask that both houses of Congress take up the bill in regular order but be limited to 30 or 45 days from start to final vote.
During the television address, the President would enthusiastically support the consensus bill as Bush did in 2006. Trump would swear that he would not change his mind. He would ask for support from his political base as well as all other parts of the American electorate.
“We must get this done,” he would say, in vigorous support in the speech and in letters to Congress.
What might this bill contain that Trump could support?
1. A 10 percent increase in the number of Border Patrol and ICE agents to staff border and interior enforcement.
2. Rebuilding the present border fencing at a reasonable cost.
3. Design and construction of new border fencing with funds allocated by Congress.
4. A new streamlined work visa for specific jobs in agriculture, construction, hospitality and technology. It would be employer-based and have simple requirements and mandates for pay, application and benefits, and be limited to specific periods of time, with border ingress and egress allowed during the time-period of the renewable visa.
5. Mandatory E-Verify for all employees, including those already working. The system would be designed and implemented under contract with immediate appeals in federal court to rectify any mistakes. Private sector companies would administer the national program. As jobs are the primary reason people come to the United States illegally, the problem would be mostly solved.
6. To satisfy the President, the bill would limit annual immigration to a figure all could accept. Family reunification would be limited to parents, children and siblings. Immigration would shift to merit qualifications.
7. Today’s five-year requirement for citizenship would be lengthened to 10 years. The “Dreamers” could apply as soon as they have reached 10 years of legal presence.
All the trading and negotiating needed to arrive at this consensus bill would be done at Camp David and the President would commit to supporting the bill no matter if some of his demands weren’t satisfied. Ditto the desires of partisan lawmakers of either party.
If the President is truly committed to immigration reform, considering he calls our present immigration laws the “worst” in the world, he needs to call this conference and lock up the attendees until they produce a bill. Then he must support that bill. Period.
Then, and only then, can he rightfully claim to be the President of all of the United States without a large majority of Americans laughing out loud.
Unfortunately, it is more than apparent that President Trump wants to keep the issue alive, not achieve real immigration reform. He will not lift a finger to improve immigration.
Raoul Lowery Contreras is a political consultant and the author of “The Armenian Lobby & American Foreign Policy” and “The Mexican Border: Immigration, War and a Trillion Dollars in Trade.” His work has appeared in the New American News Service of the New York Times Syndicate.
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