Immigration Reform, The Failure To Compromise

Let me start out by saying there are people on both sides of the immigration debate who are equally passionate in their arguments and equally love this country. To be on either side of the argument doesn’t make you more or less American. In fact, having a serious debate on any important subject is a very American thing to do.

Sometimes I think we forget we live in America. What do I mean? I mean there are many differing views on many subjects and no one person gets to decide. We all have to decide together. Which means often times we have to compromise. Unfortunately, the word compromise is no longer in our vocabulary. It has become a dirty word or a sign of weakness.

It has been said that a person who never compromises is a strong person. I have news for you. The Constitution of the United States would never have been adopted if it weren’t for people who were willing to compromise. Would you consider our founding fathers to be a strong group of people or weak? I submit to you they were the strongest most dedicated group of people ever to assemble for the purpose of uniting the states and resolving the problems associated with forming the United States of America. Yet resolving those issues would never have been possible without compromise. The foundation of the United States of America was built on compromise. There would be no United States of America without it.

I’m not talking about compromising your core values. One should never compromise on their faith, family, friends, or what makes them a person of character. Those things are not open for discussion. However, everything else is. Herein lies the problem with our politics in the 21st century. No one is willing to compromise. It’s either my way or the highway. Can you imagine this? The very thing that helped create the greatest country ever on the face of the earth is absent when it comes to our immigration problem and many other problems our country faces today.

When it comes to immigration, some believe the borders should be better secured. Others believe in open borders. Some believe in amnesty. Others believe in a pathway to citizenship. And some believe they should all be deported. Every single American has a right to express anyone of these views. It’s called the American way. We all have the right to passionately argue our point of view as the issues go through the democratic process. However, somewhere along the line there must be compromise otherwise we will never resolve the problem.

As an immigration lawyer, I understand I’m not going to get everything I want in the immigration bill because I’m not the only American! It’s that simple. The opposite is also true. Those who are against any kind of immigration reform shouldn’t be able to block everything from going through because they’re not the only Americans! We are all Americans and must find a way to work together to solve the problem, regardless of what side of the political spectrum we fall under.

For example, some argue in congress there should be 40,000 more border patrol agents on the border before they would agree to the immigration bill. Other say there should only be 20,000. Are you telling me there is no room for compromise here?! Without a compromise there will be no increase in security at all! How is that a good thing? I would rather have twenty or thirty thousand than nothing! It makes me wonder if some in congress really care – the status quo seems to be just fine with them. It simply doesn’t make any sense.
The same is true when it comes to building a fence. Some say they want 700 miles of fencing and some say they want more or less. Still others argue the pathway to citizenship should be 10 years and some say 13 years. I could go on and on regarding each point in the immigration bill. However, one thing is for certain, the American people want the immigration problem solved. Poll after poll shows 75% of the American people are for a humane approach to the problem.

I have a great idea. Something I learned in kindergarten. Why don’t we meet in the middle and shake hands. Sounds like I’m joking but I’m really not. If you ever lived in a college dorm, you learned to compromise. If you ever had a roommate, you had to learn how to compromise. Anytime you live with other people, or go into business with another, you learned the art of compromise.

Unfortunately, instead of compromising we each sit in our respective corners and claim how right we are and how everyone else is wrong. This seems to be the way of our politics today.

No one believes more than I that our borders should be secure. No one believes more than I that the American people should be safe. But I also believe we have to treat others humanly. The immigration problem has been going on for so long it has now become a humanitarian issue. It is no longer simply a law enforcement issue. Is there room for compromise? Is there a way we can find common ground? I still believe in the American dream. And I still believe in the American people. I say yes. I believe we can solve this problem together.

I have read the federalist papers. I have researched our history. I have found out about the debates and the compromises that took place to form our great country.
The fact is we should all be more like our founding fathers.
We should all be Americans.

William A. Streppone
Immigration Attorney

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