By Robert Schlesinger |
Newt Gingrich was right to have an honest discussion on immigration, and to include the moral questions facing the nation on this important issue during the presidential debate.
As a native Californian, I have known some of these individuals who form part of the 11 million undocumented residents in the United States. Whether they were brought to this country at an early age by their parents or came to seek a better life for themselves is not the issue at hand. They are here now, and most of them are deeply woven into the fabric of our society.
Our system has educated them, taught them our language, our history and culture. As students, they memorized and recited our Pledge of Allegiance, studied our founding fathers, and for a majority of these immigrant children, America is the only home they have ever known.
As our nation tries to find a solution to our economic problems, we tend to ignore that these immigrants are an integral component to our economic engine.
Politicians confuse border security with immigration reform, amnesty with legal status, and relegate their political solution to sound bites. Most of the immigrant population is here because they came legally and stayed past their visa date. Fortifying the border would have minimal impact on individuals entering the country illegally.
For years, Democrats have burnished their reputation and built support among Latinos on a foundation of empty words, broken promises, and false intentions. They repeatedly claim to champion causes and to address issues important to Latinos, yet their actions invariably have been ineffective, often raising false hopes with significant negative impacts to our overall national interest.
Republicans are in a position to capture a larger share of the Hispanic vote, but they will need to show up, lay out their plans, and have an open and honest dialogue with this important and ever-growing voter segment of our population. Newt has begun to address this issue, and I hope Republicans seize on this opportunity to strengthen the country that was born out of immigrant dreams.
About Luis Alvarado Strategic Advisor for Revolvis Consulting
Chris Newman Legal Director and General Counsel at the National Day Laborer Organizing Network
Marshall Fitz Director of Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress
Frank Sharry Founder and Executive Director of America's Voice
Mark Krikorian Author of 'The New Case Against Immigration, Both Legal and Illegal' and 'How Obama is Transforming America Through Immigration'