Moderation needed to solve immigration issue

Eli Wrathall, Copy Editor

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Contrary to what some people at this school seem to think, I am not a conservative. If one analyzes my political beliefs, it turns out that I am quite moderate. That is, because the answer is almost always nuanced, and lies in the middle.

Does this mean I dispute the opinion of experts if such an opinion backs the belief of one side? No, hence why I am fully behind climate science. But in the same vein, it means that I question whether it’s in our best interest to expand the federal budget by between 20 and 245 percent, according to two estimates by the American Action Forum and Heritage Foundation, and spend at least double what World War II cost the country, on a “Green New Deal.”

Few issues require moderation more than that of immigration. In recent years, opposing rhetoric on both sides of the aisle has spiraled out of control. President Trump’s claims of an invasion force crossing our southern border were misleading at best, and dangerous fear-mongering at worst.

The Republican Party loses its credibility when its leader and other key figures use such radical language to describe people that by and large seek to turn themselves in and claim asylum. That sounds like a very ineffective invasion force to me.

Although many Democrats have quietly proposed reasonable immigration policy, much of their rhetoric fails to represent such rationality. Take Democratic “fresh face” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as one example. According to the Washington Free Beacon, in February she effectively proposed ignoring immigration law, in a speech reminiscent of one defending an open border policy.

“We cannot be criminalized simply for our identity and status,” Ocasio-Cortez said. The status she’s referring to? Residing in the country illegally. As she correctly stated later in the same speech, we are a country of laws, so to advocate ignoring certain ones, in a convenient appeal to her far left base, is absurd.

The truth is that illegal immigration costs the American taxpayer and burdens our economy. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy has found that only about half of illegal immigrants pay income tax, meaning that a sizeable portion are profiting off federal and state programs they are eligible for, without contributing to them. Such programs include public schooling and state higher education benefits, according to the Oregonian.

Illegal immigrants thus cost the United States billions of dollars a year. Although the exact figure is disputed, this simple fact needs to be recognized by both sides, who in turn should come together to embrace bipartisan solutions.

An ideal solution presents itself in the form of E-Verify, a federal program that checks the legal status of employees. The basic idea is that if illegal immigrants are prevented from working in this country, there will be little incentive to come here illegally.

E-Verify is mandated for use in 20 states and has been proven to be effective. In a 2016 study by two economists it was found that in states with mandatory E-Verify laws, illegal immigration fell by 50 percent.

The program enjoys bipartisan support and is incredibly popular: a Washington Post/ABC News survey found that it enjoys 80 percent support.

In 2017, a House bill was introduced that would have mandated employers throughout the country use E-Verify. Although it was co-sponsored by dozens of Republicans and two Democrats, the bill got stuck in committee. However, a similar bill was introduced early this year.

It is crucial that both sides end the divisive and radical rhetoric and back this practical, moderate solution to the immigration issue. People need to be prioritized over party, and nuance over radicalism.