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Congressman Tom Cole

Representing the 4th District of Oklahoma

Working for an Immigration Solution

July 10, 2018
Weekly Columns
It is often said that the United States is a nation of immigrants. Indeed, other than our Native American population, that is true. Historically, the United States has been one of the most generous countries in terms of allowing people born in other parts of the world to legally enter the country and live the American dream. The U.S. currently accepts over a million immigrants a year legally. Despite this generous policy, many people continue to enter the country illegally.
 
The U.S. clearly has a problem with illegal immigration and there is no question that the U.S. immigration system needs to be reformed. Currently, there are an estimated 11 million people in the United States illegally. Therefore, to suggest that our borders are secure is clearly an error.
 
In the last two weeks, Republicans on two different occasions have offered immigration proposals to correct this situation. Each of the two bills that were presented would have vastly strengthened border security, plugged loopholes in our immigration system and corrected policies like chain migration and the diversity visa lottery system that are badly in need of reform. In addition, each of the bills would have provided legal status to the millions of DACA recipients. One would have provided multiple paths to citizenship for this population. Furthermore, each of these two measures would have stopped the breakup of families who illegally cross our borders. Additionally, the second bill was specifically based on President Trump’s four pillars – building the wall, legalization for DACA population, reform of chain migration and elimination of diversity visa lottery. At the urging of President Trump, I supported each of these measures.
 
The majority of Republicans voted for each of these two bills. However, it is regrettable that not a single Democrat supported either of these measures even though most Democrats claim to support legal status and citizenship for the DACA population, the prevention of family breakups and more secure borders.
 
I expect Congress will most likely return to the immigration debate before the general election. However, it is clear that the votes are not there at the present time to pass sweeping legislation like the bills proposed over the last two weeks. The sad truth is that immigration reform is being stifled because elements of both parties prefer to view it as an election issue to be exploited, rather than a national problem to be solved. It is my hope that as we continue to work on the issue, common ground can be found that will secure our borders, reform our badly flawed immigration system, and provide legal status to those who entered the country as young children.
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