Mary Sanchez

Real immigration reform calls for more than border security

Updated: 2013-06-24T02:42:45Z

By MARY SANCHEZ

The Kansas City Star

U.S. Sens. Jerry Moran of Kansas and Roy Blunt of Missouri might seem unlikely linchpins for immigration reforms being debated in Congress.

But both are among senators being watched closely with key votes expected today.

An editorial by The Wall Street Journal last week cut to the truth: “For some Republicans, border security has become a ruse to kill reform.”

The question is: Which way will Blunt and Moran fall? Both are being lobbied not to hold up reforms by adhering to an insatiable list of measures for the border.

Last week, Blunt backed a short-lived “border surge” plan put together with U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican. That plan was more extreme than a bipartisan compromise that nearly doubles the size of the border patrol’s current 21,000 agents, asks for $3 billion in new technology and adds hundreds of miles in fencing.

Obviously, many of the efforts of manpower, barriers and technology in place at the border are necessary. But one of the most effective security measures doesn’t focus on the more than 2,000-mile border.

Want to control who tries to sneak into the country?

Do what the immigration reforms enacted under Ronald Reagan failed to do. Design a visa and guest worker system that is flexible to economic and family needs. Make it feasible for adequate numbers of low-skilled workers to enter the country legally. Guess what?

The majority of them will. Few people desire to be present illegally. It’s a horrible status, one that is often obtained by risking your life to cross under dangerous conditions, by paying thousands of dollars to drug cartels with a prayer that they will lead you safely into the U.S.

As jobs dried up with the recession, illegal crossings plummeted, with net Mexican migration into the U.S. now at zero.

Polling has found that nearly 70 percent of Kansans support not only giving those currently illegally present in the country legal status, but also offering them a way to become U.S. citizens. Similar percentages have been polled among Missourians.

Politicians are right to worry about future swings in the economy, upticks that will encourage more people to cross for available jobs. Fix the system now.

And quit holding up passage of a broad range of reforms on the pretense that all aspects of security begin and end at the southern border.

To reach Mary Sanchez, call 816-234-4752 or send email to msanchez@kcstar.com.

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