(From Beto O’Rourke, on the border wall controversy)
But we still have a choice. In this democracy, if, in fact, the people are the government and the government is the people, we still have a chance to prove it.
We can decide that we’ll get past the lies and fear, focus on the facts and human lives in our midst, and do the right thing. The end goal is a stronger, safer, more successful country. Critical to achieving that goal is having immigration, security and bilateral policies that match reality and our values.
- Extend citizenship to the more than 1,000,000 Dreamers in this country. Not only those who are in our classrooms, but those who are teaching in our classrooms, those who are keeping our country safe around the world tonight in the military; those who contribute more to our communities than they’ll ever take.
- Give permanent legal protection and a path to citizenship to their parents, the original Dreamers.
- Bring millions more out of the shadows and onto a path to citizenship by ensuring that they register with the government and gain status to legally work, pay taxes and contribute even more to our country’s success.
- Make us safer and more secure. Significantly reduce illegal drug trafficking and stop human trafficking by investing in infrastructure, technology and personnel at our ports of entry. The ports that connect us with Mexico are where the vast majority of everything and everyone that ever comes into our country crosses.
- Increase the visa caps so that we match our opportunities and needs (for work, for education, for investment, for innovation, for family reunification) to the number of people we allow into this country. Ensure that those who want to work in jobs that we can’t fill can legally come here and legally return to their home country.
- Fully accept our opportunity and responsibility under our asylum laws to welcome those whose own governments can no longer protect them, including women fleeing abusive relationships.
- Address visa overstays (which account for the majority of undocumented immigration) through better tracking of and notification to visa holders (a first step could be text message reminders) and fully harmonizing our entry/exit systems with Mexico’s and Canada’s (when a visa holder exits the U.S. and enters Mexico, we will then know that they have left the U.S. Currently, if they leave through a land port of entry, we literally haveno clue if they are still here or have returned to their country of origin.
- Make Latin America and specifically Central America a top foreign policy priority. Stop relegating it to second-tier status. Invest the time, talent and resources to assist in the development of the domestic institutions that will allow these countries to thrive and offer their citizens protection and economic opportunity. It is the long long-term solution to the number of asylum seekers and refugees coming to this country.
- End the global war on drugs. An imprisonment adn interdiction-first approach has not worked, has accelerated the erosion of civil society in much of Latin American and has militarized a public health issue to the detriment of all concerned.
- Speak with respect and dignity when referring to our fellow human beings who happen to be immigrants and asylum seekers, who, in so many cases, are doing exactly what we would do if presented with the same threats and opportunities. No more “invasions,” “animals,” “rapists and criminals,” “floods,” “crisis”—dehumanizing rhetoric leads to dehumanizing policies. We cannot sacrifice our humanity in the name of security or we risk losing both.
Last week we welcomed the President of the United States to one of the safest cities in the United States. Safe not because of walls and not in spite of the fact that we are a city of immigrants. Safe because we are a city of immigrants and because we treat each other with dignity and respect. A city that has the opportunity to lead on the most important issues before us, out of experience, out of compassion and out of a fierce determination to see this country live its ideals and rise to its full potential.
We can learn from the errors of our past, have the courage to do what’s right while we still have the chance, and ensure that the President doesn’t commit this country to making mistakes from which we may never recover.
It’s up to us.
(Received on 2/19/2019 via e-mail)