Our current immigration system is not meeting the needs of our country, the businesses that rely on immigrant workers, or of the immigrants who seek to come here. Our immigration laws should reflect our best values, not our worst prejudices. We need a consistent national immigration policy that is realistic, compassionate, and economically feasible. We need a policy that works for communities, employers, and honest immigrants who want to obey the law.
This is why I support comprehensive reform of our immigration system. We must create a clear pathway to citizenship. Such a plan must include the full protection of U.S. labor law, protection against exploitation, and the rejection of discrimination.
Anti-immigration rhetoric must be weighed against the reality of the situation. It is not realistic to believe that the United States is going to deport 11 million people. Such a mass deportation, even if it was feasible, would have a devastating effect on the economies of Colorado and the United States. There are simply too many businesses that rely on immigrant labor. A policy of mass deportations would also have strong humanitarian implications. Do Americans really want to break up families and destroy the lives of people who desperately want to make a better life for themselves and their children? Do we want to send battered women back to their abusers? Do we send men, women, and children back to war zones?
A true fiscal conservative would recognize that building a wall at the border, as some have proposed, would be costly and ineffective. Why should we spend money on yet another structure that can be climbed over, tunneled under, flown over in an airplane, or otherwise breached? The idea of such a wall is better suited for a cartoon than for a serious political debate.
Our communities deserve a zero-tolerance policy for violent criminals, drug dealers, and other serious offenders who sneak across our borders with the intention of hiding or of committing a crime. But such individuals are the exception, not the rule. The overwhelming majority of immigrants are simply looking for a better life. Many of us have parents or grandparents who came to America in search of the same thing.