WHAT OTHERS SAY: Border security shouldn't stall immigration bill

Thursday, June 20, 2013 | 5:05 p.m. CDT

Federal spending on border security is at a historic high. Illegal crossings are at a 40-year low. Deportations reached record numbers in President Barack Obama's first term. Let's get on with the business of fixing the rest of our dysfunctional immigration system.

We're talking to you, Sen. Mark Kirk.

The U.S. Senate began debating an immigration bill, the product of months of negotiations by the Gang of Eight, a group of four Republicans and four Democrats who are serious about getting this done.

The bill's authors haven't declared victory in the effort to seal the border. Their measure contains up to $6.5 billion for more agents, more fencing and more surveillance equipment, including drones.

Much of that wouldn't be necessary, frankly, if lawmakers worried more about letting workers into the country legally instead of keeping them out. That means overhauling the visa system so American businesses can hire the workers they need. It means dealing with the 11 million immigrants who came here without permission to fill jobs for which there were no available visas.

The Gang of Eight proposal would update the visa system to reflect the changing needs of American businesses. It would provide separate, flexible allocations for high-tech, white collar and low-skill workers, with an additional program for agricultural guest workers. The increase in visas would come at the expense of current programs that favor relatives of immigrants already here.

The bill would require employers to use an electronic screening system to verify the immigration status of new hires.

Opponents have offered amendments that would set those benchmarks higher — so high, the bill's supporters say, that the path to citizenship would be out of reach.

The full Senate already has rejected one amendment that would have withheld provisional status — leaving the 11 million living in the shadows — until the entire border is under surveillance. That could take 10 years or more.

Kirk was one of 15 senators who voted against bringing the bill to the floor for debate at all. He's still stuck on the "enforcement first" model, and he's apparently not impressed with the falling numbers.

He says he likes a plan outlined by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. That amendment would raise the bar that must be met before immigrants can apply for green cards. The bill's supporters say Cornyn's targets are unreasonable and prohibitively expensive.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., the conservative point man on the Gang of Eight, has said he won't vote for the bill he helped draft unless the enforcement provisions are stronger. He's trying to broker a compromise. Step one: Get Kirk and others to let go of the idea that until the border is fixed, everything else has to stay broken.

Copyright Chicago Tribune. Distributed by The Associated Press.

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Ed Lane June 20, 2013 | 7:17 p.m.

The gang of eight should be referred to as, the gang of eight pseudo-intellectuals half-wits!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams June 20, 2013 | 10:35 p.m.

Ed: I suspect the immigration bill is DOA in the House. The Farm Bill just went belly up, presumably because a "must work to get food stamps" amendment was attached to it.

Info is still skimpy, tho.

The House is in revolt.


PS: If the Farm Bill can't get passed, the immigration bill hasn't much of a chance.

We'll see.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams June 20, 2013 | 10:41 p.m.

Speaking of the stock market, I see where Ben speaks and the SM takes a dump along with precious metals.

So much for all the liars in the WH and TV pundits that insisted the SM surge was NOT due to the Fed purchases. Rather, the markets were supported heavily and now they have to go it alone. That spooked investors. With all the QEs, this retrenchment eventually had to happen anyway once the Fed reversed course. The long hope was an increase in personal wealth via investments would modify American attitudes and make us start to spend and hire. We're hiring.....part-time and low-paying jobs. I think Ben is giving up and he's soon replaced (January?).

I still believe this "recovery" is an illusion.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield June 20, 2013 | 10:49 p.m.

"the 11 million living in the shadows"

Hardly. Just go to any mid-priced hotel in Columbia, and you'll see plenty of them. There's been a huge influx over the past month, perhaps as part of a push to finish the new student apartment complexes.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams June 20, 2013 | 10:55 p.m.

Back to the immigration situation.

I'm still stunned that poorer folks are not up in arms at this immigration situation/deal.

Do YOU know who is taking your jobs?????????

And doing a FINE job at it, too????????

I'd hire South-of-the-Borders in a heartbeat after the job they did on my roof and in my friends' pumpkin fields last year.

PS: Pass this bill and the low-middle class and poor folks are truly toast, folks. No way these South-of-the-Border folks will stay poor; they'll be middle class in a few decades (or less) AND be a larger voting block than many poor folks, black and white. And when they do, they'll look around at all the folks who want what they have but are unwilling to do what is required to get it. That's called "observation in the eyes of a conservative."

This is only the first in an upcoming long line of immigration "reform".

Get ready.

Still amazed; this comes under the category of "Whatever are you thinking?"

Pass it, House. I wanna see what happens.......

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith June 21, 2013 | 7:30 a.m.

I'm reminded of a situation that occurred immediately after World War II. When the fighting ended in Europe in 1945 there were "displaced persons" languishing in western Europe. Some were from the Baltic States: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. It was obvious that if some of these people were repatriated to those countries, which had been occupied in 1940 by the Soviet Union and were Soviet territory, they would face incarceration or death.

Congress created what were known as special "church quotas" for immigration of those unfortunates: the Catholic church in America handled resettlement of Lithuanians while Lutheran churches handled resettlement of Estonians and Latvians.

Those folks arrived with little more than the shirts on their backs; while some could speak German, few could speak much English. Worse yet, many were farmers with little education and no commercial or industrial skills.

Some were settled in rural and small town Minnesota and Iowa. Church and civic groups and Boy Scouts helped by soliciting canned goods, used clothing, etc.

So? The immigrants' children pretty much all finished public or religious high schools, learned and spoke fluent English, and while some of the original adult immigrants never entirely mastered English*, by the next generation there was no shortage of university degrees and good jobs.

Most of my experience with Hispanics is from working with them in Latin American countries (that is, countries of which they are citizens)** and not here in the United States, but I see no reason why many Hispanics now here, legally or otherwise, won't do the same in future generations. Native born Americans need to stop their whining about things and GET THEIR SORRY ARSES IN GEAR!

*- Some of us who were born in the United States can easily relate to that. :)

**- I spent part of the time working directly with obraros (factory workers), not just with management and engineers.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams June 21, 2013 | 10:37 a.m.

Ellis: I have certainly modified my thinking on this topic. I may do so again, but I'm simply expressing current views.

I say conservatives should embrace the "South of the Border" folks. Those folks are hungry (in more ways than one), they work like Americans USED to, and they want MORE for their families. They are willing to do what is necessary to "move on up." It may take a generation, but if they are welcomed with open arms, they'll soon be conservatives. Right now, conservatives are taking a short-term hell with that....look long-term.

So....hire them. And, if you hire them for a temp job, hire them back full-time if they do a good job. Help them accumulate wealth on the strength of their own minds and backs.

Yes, if I was still in business, I would discriminate FOR a demonstrated good work ethic....the law be damned.

And Ellis is right....native-born Americans better get their act together, because they are about to be even lower on the societal totem pole.

And, to be perfectly blunt, I no longer care. I've given up trying. As for me, I'm moving on......

PS: I am hoping that, if welcomed FULLY, those south of us will feel empowered to join Americans in our language and culture. This ain't Mexico.

This is a two-way street that first requires that we show acceptance and a welcoming.......

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith June 21, 2013 | 11:22 a.m.


The language situation could - and should - resolve itself. We have some well-meaning(?) "educators" who advocate teaching Hispanic "kiddies" entirely in Spanish in our public schools.

What a marvelous way to GUARANTEE that those children will be forever "second class" adult citizens, due to lack of English proficiency! This country isn't going to cease using English as its primary language, particularly not when English has become THE lingua franca of commercial transactions world wide; even in "major player" nations such as Germany and China students stive to become proficient in English as well as their national language.

On the other hand, I think it wouldn't hurt this country a bit if in addition to everyone being literate in English we have more literate Spanish speakers. It certainly would have been helpful for me. My German and Spanish vocabularies MIGHT qualify me to be a taxi driver!

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams June 21, 2013 | 12:33 p.m.

Ellis: Agree. Forever second class citizens. Liberals have them right where they want them.

People who are welcomed and assimilated WILL embrace their new "culture", including language. Oh, perhaps the parents won't do it, but their kids will. I am not at all in favor of educators who advocate teaching only in America. How many second generation foreign kids speak in the heavy accent of their parent's generation? Not many. They learn from their peers.

My thinking on this does not condone folks crossing our border illegally. I think that is grossly unfair to those who apply for citizenship/entry in a legal, organized manner. But 11 million horses have already passed through the open barn doors that our politicians have permitted. I advocate closing any easy, illegal access. I am leary of any politician who says we will close the border AFTER any amnesty. I think that politician is a liar.

I have a Swiss friend who was born behind the East German iron curtain. She works for a multinational company with offices on ALL continents. The entire company is required to communicate (written, spoken, etc.) in English at ALL corporate functions.

PS: She also told me that in Switzerland, the decade+ long path to the end...involves your neighbors voting on whether you should be admitted. Is this why you moved from Missouri? Did your neighbors kick you out?


(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith June 21, 2013 | 4:34 p.m.


No, my neighbors didn't refuse me citizenship in the People's Socialist Republic of Columbia [Missouri]. However, I can appreciate why you might suppose that were true.

The Confederation of Helvetia (aka Switzerland) is quite different from many other countries in that the Cantons hold much of the administrative power (obvious exceptions, handled by the federation, include foreign affairs, national and international banking and commerce, and national defense). I don't know how it is today, but in the 1950s the confederation's president got up, Monday through Friday, had breakfast, boarded a city tram, and rode on it to his office - sans body guards or other retinue.

Well, who would want to assassinate him - especially if they had accounts in Swiss banks?

I believe female Swiss citizens can now vote, but as late as 1960 they could not. OBVIOUSLY, THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST SOCIALLY ADVANCED COUNTRIES ON EARTH! :)

(Report Comment)

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