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December 5, 2011

Reforming and Improving ICE

Michael Kurtianyk

For many, the issue of immigration brings hostile discussions among even the friendliest of neighbors and colleagues. We see that immigration is a popular topic among the Republican candidates for president, as can be seen from the recent debates.


As a rule, all of the Republican candidates take a hard line on immigration. The Republican platform includes the following:


1.      Allowing only legal immigrants, through tightly controlled borders;

2.      Using biometric data to better track foreign travelers;

3.      Amnesty encourages illegal immigration;

4.      Focus immigration on needed skills; and

5.      Reform and toughen immigration system to emphasize family.


However, in a recent debate, Former Speaker of The House of Representatives Newt Gingrich said this:


“The party that says it's the party of the family is going to adopt an immigration policy which destroys families that have been here a quarter century?” I'm prepared to take the heat for saying, ‘Let's be humane in enforcing the law.’ ”


The response from the other candidates came quickly at the debate. Minnesota Congressman Michele Bachmann said that Mr. Gingrich was offering “amnesty.” Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said Mr. Gingrich was offering a “magnet” that would encourage more illegal immigration.


Did this comment hurt Mr. Gingrich’s candidacy? Likely it did not. As time has passed since the debate, Mr. Gingrich’s poll numbers are still strong, and it doesn’t appear that he has been hurt by this possible land mine of a comment. Seen through the lens of family values, Mr. Gingrich mentioned that illegal immigrants could be provided a path to legal residency, rather than citizenship.


The question comes down to this: should the United States of America increase the level of legal immigration? If we do, then we will have individuals from other countries who bring their skill sets to our country. America can give struggling people all over the world an opportunity for a better life.


This country was built on immigrants who sought opportunity, much like my parents, both of whom came here from Eastern Europe. As a first-generation American, I am proud of all that my parents had to endure, and had to achieve in order for me to make my place in this world. They did it legally, studying what they had to in order become citizens; and they learned the language. This can continue, and the focus must be on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).


This agency of the federal government must improve its efficiency with an expansion of its resources. The focus must be on speeding up the process for citizenship applications. And courses must be made available for the teaching of English to immigrants. This would lead to having legal immigrants, especially those who stay permanently, paying taxes and attending school to learn marketable skills. Assimilating into our culture also ensures that legal immigrants can vote and have a stake in the future of our country.


Let’s reform the government bureaucracy that is ICE, and improve its efficiency. From there, we can streamline the process, and allow for more diversity in our country.


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