Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Lawmakers must take action on immigration

By the Advocate Editorial Board
July 20, 2013 at 2:20 a.m.

A year ago Monday, a devastating wreck happened outside the small community of Berclair. A pickup carrying 23 people, who entered the country illegally, crashed into a tree, killing 15 and reminding us all, once again, of how dangerous the illegal immigration situation in America truly is.

Now, a year later, nothing much has changed in our nation's immigration legislation. Instead, this issue - which is continually steeped in controversy - has been a platform for grandstanding on both sides of the aisle. Republicans say granting legal status to those who are already in the U.S. is amnesty and rewards bad behavior and lawlessness.

Democrats say we should allow those who have already been contributing to our nation to stop hiding in the shadows and become accepted members of our society. Republicans want to set up a verification system to ensure companies do not hire employees living in the U.S. illegally and push for criminal punishment for those companies and immigrants who violate the law. Democrats point to America's long history of immigrants who helped to build our nation and say we should welcome those who just want a better life for themselves and their families.

Both sides of this debate have good and bad ideas about how to address the issue, but the constant grandstanding and political posturing makes us wonder if either party truly wants to bring change. The longer lawmakers scream, point fingers and stamp their feet, more and more people are putting their lives at risk making a dangerous crossing across rivers, deserts and more in their desperate bid to find a better life for themselves. Many of these immigrants will become victims either through exposure, being caught in human trafficking or being involved in incidents such as the wreck near Berclair or the 19 immigrant deaths in a trailer near the intersection of U.S. Highway 77 and Fleming Prairie Road.

We are saddened to see this perpetual stalemate, which is only causing more problems for both immigrants and our nation as a whole. While the Legislature argues talking points, lives are at risk, regional and state law enforcement forces are overworked, health care services are stretched, and immeasurable other negative elements are accumulating.

This issue can no longer be allowed to fester. Meaningful change must be made, and we call on our lawmakers to put aside the petty talking points and work toward true, practical reform. Our nation has waited too long for our politicians to act like the mature adults and representatives we elected them to be. It's time to work out a compromise. The longer we wait, the worse this situation will become.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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