CHRIS FREIND: We need common sense in immigration debate

The immigration debate was back in the headlines. Par for the course, both parties’ spewed lip-service on the need for reform, while simultaneously killing any meaningful legislation. Comprehensive immigration reform hasn’t gone anywhere in decades, making it clear that neither party’s ruling class wanted it.

But something changed.

Finally, we had a president who promised to deport problematic illegals, institute better border security, and find compassionate solutions for America’s 11 million illegal immigrants.

And he put his money where his mouth is. Called the “deporter-in-chief” by the extreme open-borders crowd, he sent nearly three million illegals packing.

That president – the one who deported those three million, initiated countless raids on the bad apples scattered among hard-working illegals, spent millions more on border security, and hired thousands additional Border Patrol agents – was named Barack Obama.

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So let’s get this straight: For the most part, President Trump is executing the same policies as his predecessor, yet instead of the free pass that President Obama enjoyed, he is being met with nationwide protests.

The hypocrisies besetting the left are downright comical.

Fact is, Americans on all sides should be thankful for Trump’s continuation of the Obama policies, as well as his initiatives to construct a wall and deport convicts whose home countries “don’t want them.” As a leader who doesn’t view top-to-bottom immigration reform as a third-rail issue, President Trump has, in no uncertain terms, challenged Congress to act.

Here are some real-life solutions from which we could all benefit:

• Let’s deport the rhetoric and stop demonizing illegals. It’s not their fault America hasn’t been deterring illegal immigration. Most are simply trying to make a better life for their families, often enduring unspeakable hardships. That said, we must not get caught up in emotional sob stories. There is a legal way to enter America; doing so illegally, and staying here, are crimes that must be addressed. As President Reagan said, “A nation without borders is not a nation.”

• Celebrate legal immigration. America is the most generous nation on earth to immigrants, bestowing permanent resident status to over one million per year – yes, per year. Yet those legal immigrants are slapped in the face each time someone enters illegally. So why is it that we never see protests on behalf of those who followed the rules? Surely, if anyone has a “right to be offended,” legal immigrants do.

• Build the border wall. Period. Control costs by utilizing nonviolent prisoners and illegal immigrants, which would solve prison overcrowding and save billions. Funding could be derived from drug seizures and diverted foreign aid to Mexico.

• Institute self-deportation policies. Employing stringent law enforcement measures on businesses, and eliminating lavish public benefits, would end much of the free ride enjoyed by illegal immigrants.

• Mandate every business utilize the free E-Verify system, which quickly determines the legal status of a potential hire. Companies in noncompliance should face stiff penalties and criminal prosecution. Hitting business in the pocketbook always proves effective.

• There should be no government (“taxpayer”) assistance of any kind to illegal immigrants. No drivers licenses, no community college, no benefits.

• Illegal immigrants convicted of crimes should serve their time and be deported, but instead they are routinely released onto our streets because their home countries don’t want them. Tough. Pass a law eliminating U.S. aid to any country refusing its citizens, and deport them anyway.

• Deal with illegals by documenting them and issuing long-term or lifetime work visas; permanently denying them citizenship and the right to vote; requiring them to pass a criminal background check; mandating they pay taxes; and levying fines (deducted in installments directly from paychecks).

Critics will call that amnesty, but it’s actually something else: Realistic. It penalizes lawbreakers, documents millions (bringing them out of the shadowy underworld), and makes them, and Americans, safer. It would also increase tax revenue and make formerly illegal workers pay into benefits programs. Those finding it difficult to compete fair-and-square in the workforce would voluntarily depart.

Problems solved.

Obviously, neither side will ever be fully satisfied, but one thing is certain: If we don’t act, now that the opportunity is on our doorstep, things will get exponentially worse. And if that be the case, our elected officials should receive no amnesty, and face deportation from voters in the next election.

Chris Friend is an independent columnist based in Philadelphia.