June 4, 2014

Conservatives should fix U.S. immigration system

Reform should reflect national interests, not misty-eyed ideals.

The U.S. immigration system is flawed and broken, and Congress should pass legislation to fix it.

Conservatives should be in the forefront of reform so the law reflects the just interests of the United States, not misty-eyed ideals of some of the liberal do-gooder reformers.

What is good for America should be the sole criterion for immigration reform.

We have the strongest economy in the world, the most innovative businesses and a history replete with examples of how legal immigration has made us stronger.

Conservatives need to seize on immigration reform as an opportunity for growth, to reaffirm who we are and what makes our country great.

Our economy has long outgrown the visa programs we have now. In high-skilled industries like engineering and medicine, we do not have the talent we need to fill jobs.

These industries are the fastest growing in the country, and we depend on them for job creation and economic growth. But according to the Partnership for a New American Economy, we face a shortage of more than 235,000 jobs in science, technology, engineering and math fields by 2018.

Our broken system relies on quotas and diversity rather than what America needs.

Though our higher education system is the best in the world, our colleges and universities benefit competing nations by turning out talented foreign-born graduates, who study here and then get sent back home to drive their economies instead of ours.

According to the Partnership for a New American Economy, only seven percent of green cards are granted based on economic grounds. In other countries, it’s as high as 50 percent – and they will win in the long term if we do not adapt our policies to the global marketplace.

With a rational visa policy, we also improve security by allowing border security agents to devote their attention where it is most needed: keeping out law-breakers, drug dealers, criminals and terrorists.

Border security is an essential element of any immigration reform. In addition to using physical barriers, surveillance and enforcement, we have to stop the biggest problem: the rich incentives for illegal immigration.

Finally, we need to make the 11 million people who are here illegally obey the law, pay taxes and come out of the shadows. We have to get them right by the law in exchange for legal status, but not unbridled amnesty.

This should include penalties, background checks to root out criminals and the requirement that they learn English, understand the Constitution and be committed to our basic freedoms.

We must ensure there is no special pathway to citizenship that puts them in front of people who waited in line.

It is time to make the changes that our citizens and our economy demand. Our current policies date back to the 1960’s, when TVs were black-and-white and computers were bigger than cars.

Our nation competes in a global economy, and our immigration policies should reflect our needs for the 21st century.

Conservative-led immigration reform is an important step to a brighter American future.

Sal Russo of Sacramento is co-founder of the Tea Party Express. teapartyexpreess.org

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