Dear U.S. Rep. Sam Graves,
By ANDREA COMFORT MARTINEZ
Special to The Star
Do you prioritize shrinking the federal deficit or keeping undocumented immigrants in the shadows? As you may know, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently released its analysis of the Senates immigration reform bill (S. 744). The CBO approximates that the bill will reduce the federal deficit by $197 billion during the first 10 years after its passage and will ax another $700 billion off the deficit in its second decade.
I know that many of your constituents are pressuring you to vote against any immigration bill that has a path to citizenship in it. In so requesting, those constituents are asking you to vote in favor of keeping the deficit and Americas dependence on China high. They are also asking you to vote in favor of de facto amnesty for those millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States today.
We both know that deporting every undocumented person is too expensive for the U.S. government to undertake and lacks the humanitarian values our country cherishes. We also know that in November 2012, voters rejected the presidential candidate who proposed self-deportation as a viable solution to our nations immigration issues.
I encourage you to look at the long-term consequences to your partys future when you vote on a comprehensive immigration bill. If you vote no on a meaningful immigration bill like S.744, your party will have a hard time winning the White House in the future. I urge you to listen to respected members of your party, such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, when they tell you it is time for Republicans to cease being the obstacle to immigration reform. If immigration reform dies in the House this year, the 70 percent of the population who support immigration reform will blame your party for killing the bill that would have protected people they care about. This is not a good reputation to have as immigrant supporters are growing in number.
In contrast, if you and your party vote yes to meaningful comprehensive immigration reform, Republicans will have at least 13 years before any newly registered immigrant will be able to apply for U.S. citizenship. Surely in 13 years you and your Republican colleagues will figure out a way to woo these new voters.
In my opinion, legalizing the undocumented population in the U.S. could be the best thing that ever happened to the Republican party. Hispanic immigrants, for example, tend to have strong family values, oppose abortion, and are highly religious. They would be ideal Republicans if your party would show your support for them in this meaningful way.
So I conclude by asking this question: do you prioritize punishing immigrants or decreasing the deficit? Before answering, my advice is that you visit the undocumented agricultural workers in the farms of Missouri or talk to the dishwasher at the next restaurant you stop. Get to know the hard-working men and women who make Americas economy run. Meet their U.S.-citizen children. I bet you will be surprised at what you find and how much you actually have in common when you get to know these people.
As New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie recently said, its harder to hate someone up close.
A vote for comprehensive immigration reform protects your partys future, preserves immigrant families, and cuts almost $1 trillion off the federal deficit. There could be no clearer win-win-win. So please prioritize deporting the deficit, not immigrants.
Andrea Comfort Martinez, of Kansas City, is an immigration lawyer in North Kansas City and served as a Midwest Voices writer for The Star in 2011. She hosts a weekly radio show in Spanish on immigration-related issues on KCZZ (1480 AM). She is an associate attorney with the McCrummen Immigration Law Group.