June 25, 2024

Fix The Border But Remember We Need Immigrants

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When a Democratic president says he is willing to shut down the border to address the immigration crises, you know he desperately needs Republican help to pass critical legislation. In this case, the critical legislation is financial support for Ukraine’s battle against the invading forces of Russia and supporting Israel.

Democrats also realize the current situation at America’s southern border must be addressed. It is likely the most pivotal issue of the upcoming presidential race.

For their part, Republicans know they have Biden and the Democrats right where they want them, but they are failing to take advantage of the moment. Former Republican President Donald Trump, the likely nominee for the 2024 presidential run against incumbent Democrat Joe Biden, has put the brakes on congressional action.

Trump is pressuring Republicans to oppose a border deal with Democrats. “I have no doubt that our wonderful Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, will only make a deal that is PERFECT ON THE BORDER,” Trump wrote in a text message. Johnson got his marching orders. Most Republicans are okay with that, not wanting to give Democrats what could be seen as a win on immigration in an election year.

But some Republicans are frustrated with their party and want to see a deal reached.

Sunday, the Senate released its proposed immigration bill with provisions addressing asylum loopholes, expanding detention capacity, hiring thousands of new border and asylum agents, and giving the president the authority to shut down the border if migrant crossings exceed 5,00o in a single day for several days or 8,500 in a single day. The president has the authority to set it at 4,000. Crossings have exceeded 10,000 to 12,000 per day at times in recent months.

It makes it harder to apply and qualify for asylum. It creates new authority for removing migrants who don’t qualify for asylum.

Oklahoma Republican U.S. Sen. James Lankford has been deeply involved in crafting Senate legislation to address the immigration crises. He expressed his frustration last week with his party’s unwillingness to reach a deal that gives them much of what they seek.

“Only in Washington is our southern border political gamesmanship instead of a national security crisis,” Oklahoma Republican U.S. Sen. James Lankford said. “It is interesting: Republicans, four months ago, would not give funding for Ukraine, for Israel, and for our southern border because we demanded changes in policy,” Lankford said while being interviewed on CNN.

 “And now, it’s interesting, a few months later, when we’re finally getting to the end, they’re like, ‘Oh, just kidding, I actually don’t want a change in law, because it’s a presidential election year.’”

Dan Crenshaw is a conservative Texas Republican House member. He supports Lankford’s efforts and passing legislation to address the flood of immigrants coming to the U.S. southern border. Like Lankford, he is frustrated with his colleagues.

“I’m extremely disappointed in the very strange maneuvering by many on the right to torpedo a potential border reform bill. That’s what we all ran on doing,” Crenshaw said. “If we have a bill that, on net, significantly decreases illegal immigration, and we sabotage that, that is inconsistent with what we told our voters we would do.”

Crenshaw came to Congress promising his constituents he would help fix the problem at the border. He says he is obligated to live up to that promise. “It would be a pretty unacceptable dereliction of your duty,” Crenshaw said of those who would block action on an immigration bill giving Republicans much of what they want.

Crenshaw and Lankford know that even should Trump win and Republicans take control of both the House and Senate, they may not get a bill that equals what could be on the table soon. It takes 60 votes to pass legislation in the Senate. Republicans are very unlikely to win a 60-vote majority in November. The Senate is a dead-end for legislation that doesn’t have strong bipartisan support.

Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky … said the proposed bill had “direct and immediate solutions to the crisis at our southern border.”

In addition to addressing the crisis at the border, the Senate bill provides funding for Ukraine and Israel.

Even if this current bill is passed by the Senate, it will likely die in the House, where Republicans have the majority, but are bitterly divided within their ranks.

While we address the crises at the border, we can’t forget immigrants are critical to the future of rural Minnesota. Most of those here seek a better life, have an incredible work ethic, and a dedication to family.

“New Americans play a vital role in meeting Minnesota’s workforce needs,” the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) says. “In fact, from 2010-2020, foreign-born workers made up more than 50% of the state’s labor force growth. Welcoming more immigrants and refugees … will help ease our severe labor force shortage.” 

When economic development strategy is discussed by small towns, conversations focus on aiding business expansion and bringing in new industries. In pursuing these goals, they recognize the challenges of providing housing and daycare services.

But these days, some employers at the table get nervous during these discussions. In an extremely tight labor market, they see any new job creation as a threat. It means even greater competition for scarce employees and missed production goals due to labor shortages.

As the Baby Boom generation retires in greater numbers, rural Minnesota will see a worsening labor shortage without immigrants to fill the gaps.

We work against our future by pursuing strict opposition to any immigration. Our counties will continue to see population decline, more businesses will fail due to fewer customers, business expansions will be stopped, current manufacturers will have to move where the employees exist, and our schools will see declining enrollment.

Minnesota’s congressional delegation should support addressing the problem at the border while seeking ways to ensure we have the migrants critical to our future economic health.

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