If last weekend’s shutdown of our federal government proved anything beyond all the finger-pointing left, right and center, it’s that immigration remains a festering problem for many Americans. Controversy inflamed this issue well before the administration of President Trump and even before the administration of Barack Obama. And because this issue continues to percolate, Republican lawmakers must be empowered to develop a real solution to protect our residents, especially given that some today live among illegal immigrant criminals.
Below is a 2018 Republican Party of Texas Immigration Platform Resolution to be formally submitted by Fort Bend County Republican Mike Gibson and me. It reads:
Therefore, be it resolved that:
- The first priority for security is to stop the flow of illegal entry. Build a wall or install border technology designed to repel illegal crossings.
- We must increase the size of border patrol and raise the budget to properly equip agents.
- We must immediately identify those illegals living among us and deport all criminal aliens. Criminal aliens are those who commit crimes such as murder, rape, domestic abuse, DWI, human trafficking, terrorism, theft, drug trafficking and gang-related crimes among others.
- Those illegals who are not included in the criminal category must enroll in a documentation program of intense vetting and biometrics testing. A one-year cut-off date will be set to enroll.
- Any illegals who do not enroll in this program by the cut-off date should be automatically deported.
- Develop smart ID cards, difficult to forge and containing resident data.
- If an illegal immigrant is unable to pass proper vetting, he or she must be deported immediately.
- All non-citizens will be subjected to the same extreme vetting and biometrics regardless of resident status and be issued the same ID cards as temporary residents.
- All remaining, qualified, vetted illegals may receive a two-year temporary visa, renewable only if the applicant has remained out of legal trouble and is able to support himself.
- Any participant in the temporary or permanent resident program may not be able to apply for citizenship. In order to apply for citizenship, people must return to their country of origin and get in line.
- No applicant will be allowed to receive any local, state or federal funds on behalf of themselves or their children.
- New temporary residents will not be allowed to vote in any elections.
- No in-state tuition rates shall be provided for illegal residents.
- Under temporary or permanent resident status, residents can leave and re-enter the United States the same as a citizen.
A few words of explanation: For years, I’ve met with people about immigration. We have two extreme positions in our political parties. On one hand, we have a weak border and no obvious concern about illegal immigrants. On the other, we have some proposing mass deportation. Any real solution must satisfy both sides. It must outline tough positions, yet stress decent and fair policies that allow all illegal immigrants the opportunity to earn temporary legal status.
Meeting with people in very conservative groups, I keep hearing that they want a wall — in short, tough border security. When I actually break through initial objections, we end up talking about dealing with those illegal immigrants now living among us. When I say mass deportation is not the answer and ask if they would consider tough vetting, biometrics, background checks and paying fines, most say they might be able to accept this process, so long as it does not include U.S. citizenship.
And when I talk with illegal immigrants in Central Texas and beyond, many simply aren’t concerned with citizenship. This inconveniently up-ends certain conspiracists out there who claim the people who mow our lawns and roof our homes are champing at the proverbial bit to vote in elections — a true irony, given that many Texans who are citizens routinely fail to vote. The truth: Most illegal immigrants among us want only the ability to work and provide for their families.
As many Republicans know, I supported and contributed to the passing of the Texas Solution several GOP conventions ago. It included some of the ideas I continue to believe in, such as a new ID card, biometrics testing and background checks. By removing the ability to gain U.S. citizenship if illegal immigrants enter a documentation program, we satisfy those in the Republican Party who get furious about the idea of them gaining citizenship, yet we allow the undocumented resident to continue working. Both constituencies are happy.
Also, by requiring immigrants to return to their country of origin and reapply to gain actual citizenship, Republicans are completely satisfied. This allows a legal path for those who truly desire to become U.S. citizens. We aren’t denying them citizenship, just making them go through the legal process like everyone else.
In my opinion, we shouldn’t carve out special policy for a very small segment of the illegal population while not addressing the vast majority of illegal immigrants living among us. Security of U.S. residents should be our No. 1 objective. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is a Band-Aid which may help certain individuals but really kicks the can down the road. I would rather see us address the entire population of illegal immigrants, keeping those who qualify, deporting those who do not.
Yes, I feel sorrow for those brought here as children. It’s not their fault, but their parents put them all in this situation and it is not our obligation to grant them citizenship or legal status because they violated our country’s immigration laws. It bothers me Democrats dangle DACA over the heads of illegals. I see us having one chance to do something meaningful here — and addressing only the issue involving DACA recipients will ruin our opportunity to truly impact our nation’s red-hot immigration issue.
Regarding the state GOP convention this summer, two main policy segments are to my mind worthy of greater debate. The first platform issue involves citizenship: “We call on the United States Congress to pass a constitutional amendment that defines citizenship as those born to a citizen of the United States or through naturalization.” Essentially, the current platform would redefine the 14th Amendment. Some may remember in my video of Sen. Ted Cruz in 2011, he said at one point we should not meddle with this matter or tamper with the U.S. Constitution. But the extreme right in our party will not rest till the 14th Amendment itself is amended. I prefer that it remain intact. The issue is not really the 14th Amendment but, rather, our unsecured borders, methods for tracking expired visas and lack of enforcement of existing immigration laws.
The second platform issue involves amnesty: “Any form of amnesty with regard to immigration policy should not be granted, including the granting of legal status to persons in the country illegally.” This is the language of mass deportation, which is not a position I hold. I don’t seek to throw everyone out, just those who don’t deserve to be here, primarily criminals. Plus, use of the word “amnesty” is inappropriate and often defined incorrectly. In my proposal, we call for mandatory enrollment with a deadline. My resolution would force us to deal with and resolve the issue, versus leaving it as an open sore that will continue to polarize Americans.
I realize my proposal will not be accepted in full and will be diced up, but I feel the need to outline and identify as well as substantiate a process to solve the problem, something we haven’t been able to lead on, unfortunately, since the days of Ronald Reagan. My proposal is currently embraced by Republican primary candidate and fifth-generation Tejana Alma Arredondo-Lynch, who is running against incumbent Republican Congressman Will Hurd of South Texas. But I believe it has the potential to address the concerns of most Americans, certainly most reasonable Republicans, and in the process allow us to move on to other challenges facing our great nation.