KATIE ZERR: Let’s get immigration reform done right

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Our nation has spent years of lost time and countless dollars recovering from legislation that at the time it was passed seemed like a good idea.

In recent history, the No Child Left Behind, Affordable Healthcare and the Defense of Marriage Acts are three pieces of legislation that proved to be legislation that was not well thought out.

We seem to be headed in that direction with immigration reform.

There are many sides to this issue, but what is on the forefront of the battle is border control bringing those who are already in this country onto the path of citizenship.

There are many views on both of these subjects, but most of what we are hearing relates to fear mongering that keeps the facts buried.

Yes, the border between the United States and Mexico can be a war zone. Many people who live along the border are not safe on their own property. Drugs and firearms cross the border at an alarming rate. But is the fence along the border the answer?

There have to be many components to border control. Constructing 350 miles of pedestrian fencing along the border cannot be the only answer.

According to environmentalist the border fence is already causing tremendous damage. Although humans easily circumvent the border fences, the fences are deadly effective at blocking migration pathways for wildlife and redirecting the flow of water. This causes flooding, erosion and damage to borderlands and communities.

The legislation mandates the construction of hundreds of miles of additional pedestrian fencing along the border and will roughly double the number of border patrol agents, from 19,000 to 38,000, at an estimated cost of more than $30 billion.

Is this truly necessary when unauthorized border crossings are at a 40-year low?  Or is this a measure used to pacify those who want to prove to their constituents they are standing up for true Americans?

Instead of creating more legislation that will prove to be harmful and is passed simply to garner votes from one group or another, can’t our highly-educated legislators create good legislation?

Can’t they find compromise that will be best for our country instead of what is best for the next election cycle?

We continue to allow our Congress to pass bad legislation that pleases the party heads but can ultimately harm the populace. We invest our time, energy, or resources in legislation that is wrong for us and when it is proven not to work as it was intended, we invest more money in trying to make it work instead of fixing it. For example, instead of the constant call for repeal of the Affordable Health Care Act, how about legislation that will amend the harmful aspects of the legislation?

It is easier, and gets more attention from the money handlers to stand on the floor and spend time and money making useless statements.

Let’s not go down that same path with immigration. We need to let the public know that allowing people who have lived here illegally a path to citizenship would be beneficial to this country.

Tax revenue could jump to more than $12.6 billion if people were allowed to work legally. Undocumented immigrants would pay more in state income taxes, as well as participate fully in federal, state and local tax systems.

Other studies the show a path to citizenship would be beneficial overall. A study by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found that immigration reform would shrink the federal deficit by $197 billion over the next decade and one by the Brookings Institute found that an increase in immigrant workers may lead to a boost in wages for U.S.-born workers. A Pew Research study found 75 percent of Americans say that granting undocumented immigrants legal status would be good for the economy.

Immigration reform is needed, but not at any cost. Instead of passing legislation that will provide more camera time to media whores, let’s set aside archaic attitudes about immigration and push Congress to do it right the first time.

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