Sep. 30—In this series, we asked the three 7th Congressional District candidates five questions about issues currently facing the U.S. and the 7th District and will publish their responses. Candidates are Republican Eric Burlison, Democrat Kristen Radaker Sheafer and Libertarian Kevin Craig. The final question and answers will be published Saturday.
Do you believe the U.S. immigration systems needs to be overhauled? Why or why not? What changes would you propose?
Burlison: Border towns in Texas and Arizona have had to deal with this administration's harmful open-border policy for the last two years, yet sanctuary zones call it a humanitarian crisis when 50 immigrants show up at their front door. We cannot ignore the safety of our citizens any longer. The current administration needs to acknowledge that their open-border policy is not sustainable and poses danger to all Americans across the United States. I am a strong believer in a rigid immigration system. Immigration must be dealt with fairly and properly.
Radaker Sheafer: Absolutely. We are well overdue for comprehensive immigration reform. I believe there are opportunities to accomplish this on a bipartisan basis.
—Immigrants currently in the country: Currently, the greatest percentage of immigrants in the country that are here illegally had initially entered the country legally and overstayed their visas. Many of them have been in the U.S. for a long time, work hard, love this country and would prefer to be here legally or become citizens. They live in fear of being deported back to unsafe situations.
I would propose a system that allows those immigrants to come voluntarily forward without fear of deportation or detainment. They would then be required to submit to thorough background checks. They could then be put on a payment plan or pay upfront a penalty for overstaying the visa, any taxes they owe, and be put on a path to citizenship or a renewed visa.
—Crossing the border legally: Claiming asylum at the border is not illegal. In fact, offering a safe place for those fleeing persecution or looking to start a better life for themselves is deeply rooted in the history of our country. One of the major issues is the enormous backlog of individuals waiting to be processed through immigration courts.
We can solve this problem by creating policies that offer an expedited entry process. After passing thorough background checks, they can be granted work visas and agree to have money taken out of each paycheck, much like Social Security is taken out, to begin to cover immigration court fees and costs associated with staying here legally.
—The crisis at the border: Providing an expedited process for those wanting to enter legally for safety or economic reasons would help free up border agents for the more important work of focusing on those who are trying to cross for more nefarious reasons. We could catch more people trafficking drugs or illegally transporting migrants across the border. Focusing on clearing the backlog of well-intentioned people can alleviate so much of the stress put on our borders while making it easier to secure the border against those who profit off of the chaos.
Craig: Restrictions on immigration are unconstitutional.
Immigrants from Mexico are sometimes described as an "invasion." I guess that means we can wage "war" on them. I prefer to look at this issue on a more personal, individual, human level.
Imagine that you live in Mexico on the U.S. border. Imagine that I live in the U.S. on the Mexican border. Our properties adjoin. I can see your house across my backyard through my kitchen window, and you can see my house across your backyard from your kitchen window.
The governments of the United States and Mexico have drawn an arbitrary "border" through our backyards. There is nothing in the Constitution that gives the U.S. federal government the authority to initiate force against you if you wish to visit me in my American home (if I invite you).
There is nothing in the Constitution that gives the U.S. federal government the authority to send an armed SWAT team to my home and threaten to close down my business, levy fines and threaten physical violence against me if I want to hire you to work in my family business.
You were endowed with unalienable rights by my Creator, according to the Declaration of Independence, which also criticized the British government for restricting immigration to the American colonies.
European countries regularly emptied out their prisons and sent boatloads of inmates to America. The inmates were met at the docks by Christians and voluntary associations that were formed in obedience to Christ's command, "I was a foreigner and you took me in" (Matthew 25:35), and the immigrants were taught English, business skills, and became admirable Americans.
For some reason, Republicans today would rather be racists than take immigrants in and turn them into Republican voters. Hardworking Mexicans who flee on foot to escape despotic governments and come to America sound like potential Trump voters, one might think.
America has been transformed from a Christian nation characterized by hospitality to an atheistic empire characterized by xenophobia.