Sean Bielat and moving the goal posts on immigration

When will increased border security be enough? For Republican Sean Bielat, that may be never. Bielat is the businessman and former Marine who wants to take over the 4th district seat held for three decades by Congressman Barney Frank. Emily Rooney asked him about immigration reform on last night’s Greater Boston. You can’t have immigration reform until you improve the way we seal our borders, Bielat said. 
But when will we ever have “enough” border protection to take the next step?

The United States has more border security personnel on our southwest border than at any time in U.S. history, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told the National Conference of Editorial Writers meeting in Dallas last week.  The more than 20,000 agents posted there have more than doubled our coverage since 2004.  We have immigrations and customs enforcement personnel in 22 countries. Twelve hundred National Guard are deployed there. There is more technology in use, drones, thermal sensing and more.  All but five miles of the border wall has been built. Apprehension of people (deportations) is at an all-time high (including the removal of tens of thousands of convicted criminals), and drug interdictions are vigorous.

Napolitano seems informed and reassuring when she says “what needs to be up is up; what needs to be down is down.”  So when do we stop moving the goal posts on what must happen before the country moves on immigration reform?

There are some 11 million here illegally. Are we going to lock them all up and sterilize them? Are we going to deport them all?  We need a firm but fair way to legalize their status.  Napolitano calls for better tools for cracking down on employers, noting that, although the government has collected $40 million in fines this year, the fines are now “too low to make a difference.”  That seems clear when some fines are as low as $375! 

Legal immigration also needs to expanded. Immigration reform is also about our economy, our global competitive advantage, and the need to expand visas to meet employers needs, especially in high tech. Failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform has meant that people end up going to war for the United States, and even dying,  while still awaiting their citizenship designation.

In front of Fenway’s Green Monster, Napolitano recently swore in 5,189 new citizens from 150 countries. We’re a nation of immigrants, and a nation of laws. Enough already with the anti-immigrant hysteria.  We need bipartisan support for an updated comprehensive immigration law, and we need it now.

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