Millions of Americans are suffering because the federal government is partially shut down. People are not able to pay bills, and our economy is at stake.
Americans and international tourists are no longer able to enjoy some of the nation’s treasures in our national parks and monuments. The toxic partisan political environment of Washington, D.C., has needlessly infected the rest of the nation.
In light of the current government shutdown, let me offer what I think is a middle of the road, common sense, comprehensive compromise that would be a win for America instead of one political party or the other.
First, let’s deal with the big issue at hand: the physical barrier that separates the United States and Mexico. In some areas fencing and other barricades are needed; in other places, they are not.
I propose $15 billion to create a physical barrier and $25 billion to create, improve, and upgrade our virtual surveillance capabilities.
As far as the location of the barriers, we need to get the politicians out of this process and put it in the hands of experts who deal with the border on a regular basis. Let them determine where there needs to be a physical barrier by using actual data, not feelings.
Removing politicians from the process will remove partiaiasan retrotic and insert pragmatic solutions to the problem of illegal immigration crossings. We do not need a fence or wall spanning the entire Southern border.
In places where we do not have barricades, we must have a state of the art electronic surveillance system and the personnel to monitor and respond within 30 minutes. This is where the additional $25 billion in funding comes into play.
In 2013 current Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer proposed a bill that would have allocated $46 billion for border security. Most of the money, around $30 billion, was for hiring more U.S. Border Patrol agents along the southern border. Around $8 billion would have gone toward building or repairing 700 miles of fencing which would have included some double-layer fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The bill S.74 – Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act  – passed the Senate with a vote of 68-32. Sadly, the Republican-controlled House did not take up that bill after it passed the Senate.
The next component of this common sense comprehensive compromise deals with the remaining aspects that the “Gang of 8” came up with in their bipartisan proposal in 2013.
The senators who made up the Gang of 8 — Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) — included the following proposals:
- A path to citizenship for illegal aliens already in the United States contingent on certain border security and visa tracking improvements. The plan provided for permanent residence for illegal aliens only after legal aliens waiting for a current priority date receive their permanent residence status and a different citizenship path for agricultural workers through an agricultural worker program.
- Business immigration system reforms, focusing on reducing current visa backlogs and fast tracking permanent residence for U.S. university student visa immigrant graduates with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or math also known as the STEM fields.
- An expanded and improved employment verification system for all employers to confirm employee work authorization.
- Improved work visa options for low-skilled workers including an agricultural worker program.
Passing what the Gang of 8 proposed in addition to making it easier for guest workers to come to America to work seasonally is imperative in creating a common sense, comprehensive compromise.
The final part of my plan is the DREAM Act that must be included in this compromise and passed. The DREAM Act would help end ambiguous status for millions living in the United States who, for the most part, only know America as home. It would allow them to be more productive in society and also help keep America safer.
The current government shutdown must end. The President and Congressional leaders must do what is right for America in solving this and look at what would be a win for the country. Leaders must reject political partisan rhetoric and come together for a win-win on policy and re-open the government.