Immigration Debate Still Centers Around Balanced Position

Despite the various points of view touted by multiple politicians, immigration reform still needs to be balanced.

Here we are, how many years past the initial proclamation that immigration reform was just around the corner, and we still have not turned the corner. Either it is a very contentious battle or someone cannot get their act together. Frankly, most people would opt for number two – someone cannot get their act together. Evidently, no matter what politicians say, their actions speak louder than their words.

They say what one part of the electorate wants to hear. Then they do what the other part of the electorate wants them to do. To say that would likely result in mixed metaphors, inaction, and stalling tactics would be a major understatement.

If you want to see whiplash in action, try listening to some of the pre-campaign rhetoric. It is truly amazing, if only it were true. For example, Newt Gingrich once said he endorsed an individual mandate for health reform. He dropped that position after the “HillaryCare” debates in the 1990s. Interestingly enough, Obama picked up that same position and ran with it. Look what we don’t have now.

Gingrich’s remarks on immigration enforcement, which summed up in its entirety goes like this: if you are in the U.S. now, with no ties to the country, go home. If you have ties, pay taxes and obey the laws, we will not forcefully boot you out. Really? Then what has been happening over the last few years that caused the government to proudly boast about its increased deportations? Have the ICE raids stopped?

Being that this is such a political issue, those remarks lit a fire. Mitt Romney said Gingrich was, in essence, trolling for more illegal immigrations. Michele Bachmann said he was advocating amnesty for everyone, and Rick Perry, who really should remain nameless for his recent series of blunders relating to the DREAM Act, said secure borders were the ticket.

Anyone know where Newt sits now? Not really, which might be just the way he wanted it to come off. After all, he really only said that the first step in immigration reform needed to start with controlling the border. Well alright then, that means securing over 11 million illegal immigrants inside the United States. What then? Newt says be discrete about applying deportation, and do not hand out blanket forgiveness.

This is actually plain old common sense. In other words, this is nothing new, and continues more of the same old policy just articulated a slightly different way. This may mean the 2012 election should elect candidates that espouse the principals of common sense. It is rather doubtful that this would work, which still leaves immigration reform up in the air.

Most illegal immigrants will eventually leave under their own steam if they’ve got the money. That is already happening in this dismal economy. And if push comes to shove, most prosecutors would rather deport the bad guys who are a threat, not the ones who make an effort to contribute to the community. And most Americans? What do they want?

From recent polls, it seems 42 percent favor a balanced approach between border enforcement and a path to legalization. On the other hand, 36 percent want to see the enforcement model – period. In other words, right down the middle and in balance is what the solution seems to be. Let’s see if that position gets elected in 2012.

Sally Odell – Rifkin & Fox-Isicoff, PA is an immigration lawyer in Miami with immigration law offices in Orlando and Miami Florida. To learn more, visit

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