Immigration Reform Thoughts


Looking at a Senator James Lankford Email


John R. Houk

© March 15, 2018

 

I live in Oklahoma. One of my Senators is Republican James Lankford. Yesterday I received what is probably a form email from Senator Lankford addressing Immigration reform and Border Security.

 

Since my name is used in the salutation, the Senator’s email is in response to a petitioned I signed or an immigration reform organization’s form email that I electronically signed. Either way, my signature was sent so long ago I don’t recall who I partnered with to share my feelings as an Oklahoman voter to Senator Lankford.

 

I vaguely remember that the issue was the Senator was supportive of a Border Wall for National Security against illegal border crossings. I do not recall the specifics of my displeasure with the Senator I did vote for in the past. The Senator Lankford email is what jogged my sketchy memory.

 

I did respond to Senator Lankford’s explanation of his Senate voting options. You should read the email I am cross posting, but since my response is shorter, I am posting that first. Some will agree with my thoughts. Some will partially agree. I have a suspicion some will strongly disagree with my favorability of inclusion of current benefactors of the so-called DACA dudes Obama unconstitutionally allowed to remain in the USA. The irony is I am with President Trump on giving immigration status to 1.8 million illegals as opposed to the fake Dem-proposal of (I think) 600,000 illegals.

 

Here was my email response to Senator Lankford:

 

Senator Lankford,

 

I’d rather jump at 1.8 million employed illegal immigrants to have a Green Card to become legal. I do not consider drug trafficking, human trafficking or gang membership to be gainful employment contributing to the benefit of the communities they live in. Those illegals need to be arrested then deported or imprisoned depending on the laws broken other than being just illegal.

 

BUT, before any move to legally absorbing gainfully employed illegals, border security needs to be enhanced. I appreciate your suggestion of expanding technology for a less expensive securing of the border, but I gotta tell ya; I don’t care how many billions taxpayers pay for a wall built even in difficult terrain. I’ve listened to various proposals by the private contractors and I am aware it is a physical possibility to accomplish a border wall. Combining tech with a wall provides at the very least that the government is serious about stemming the flow of illegal immigrants into the USA.

 

I am confidant many of my fellow Oklahoman voters feel the same way. So, by all means. Work on reforming the status of gainfully employed illegals, throw the book at the horrid criminal illegals and dear god, please end chain immigration in favor of merit immigration. That would make this voter happy.

 

And below is Senator James Lankford’s email sent to me and probably his Oklahoma constituents.

 

JRH 3/15/18

Please Support NCCR

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Response from Senator James Lankford

 

By Senator James Lankford

Sent 3/14/18 9:18 PM

Sent from Lankford.Senate.gov

 

Dear Mr. John Houk,

 

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and concerns on the congressional plan to fix our nation’s broken immigration system.  I have heard from other Oklahomans like you who also sent emails and letters or made phone calls to share their thoughts and ideas on proposals to repair our nation’s immigration policies.

 

As a member of the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, I remain actively involved in conversations and negotiations surrounding proposals to repair the faulty immigration policies in our country.  My staff and I have had daily conversations and meetings for the past several months with Members of all political parties, in both Chambers of Congress, and with the Administration to develop policies that focus on the economic and security needs of our nation and can receive enough votes to become law.

 

Though immigration has been a contentious issue for some time, its resolution did not have a deadline.  However, on September 5, 2017, President Trump rescinded the 2012 Obama Administration initiative Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) because while he agreed that DACA recipients should receive protection, it is inappropriate for any president to create the program through executive action.  DACA provided temporary relief from removal for individuals who entered the United States as minors, most often with their parents, but it did not provide legal certainty for the DACA recipients or provide additional security for our nation.

 

When President Trump rescinded the program, he set the effective end date to be March 5, 2018, which gave Congress six months to provide legislative permanency for these individuals and time to include provisions to prevent a similar situation from happening in the future  It is worth noting that DACA-eligible individuals were at no time given the opportunity to go through the naturalization process unless they returned to their home countries for at least 10 years and then began the application process.

 

As you may know, the White House released its framework for immigration reform and border security on January 25, 2018.  I share the opinions of the President and other Administration officials who believe a permanent solution for individuals who qualify for DACA should be paired with border and entry security, reasonable limitations on family unification visas, and the elimination of the convoluted visa lottery.  The framework of this agreement was based on four pillars that Democrats and Republicans agreed to with President Trump during a White House meeting earlier in January.

 

As part of the negotiations to fund the government after a shutdown in January, during the week of February 12, the Senate opened the floor for proposals and debate to solve our nation’s immigration issues.  Throughout the week several groups of Senators proposed a variety of plans and ideas to create a solution for DACA-eligible individuals, but only one of the proposals, the SECURE and SUCCEED Act, included the necessary reforms in the White House framework and could have received enough votes to also pass the House.  I joined Senators Grassley (IA), Cornyn (TX), Tillis (NC), Perdue (GA), Cotton (AR), Ernst (IA), Corker (TN), Isakson (GA) and Alexander (TN) to introduce the Act.

 

Each of the four bills debated in the Senate received bipartisan support, but every bill fell short of the 60 votes needed to proceed to a final vote.

 

I have heard from some Oklahomans who have asked why I did not support alternate proposals that contained aspects of the four pillars.  For example, one proposal included funding for border security, but not until 2020.  Even then, the bill restricted how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) could use those fund, and it included no enforcement provisions.  The bill created a convoluted process that could lead to a rapid pathway to citizenship for a large group of undocumented individuals.

 

For all other undocumented individuals in the country, it provided deferred action and a guarantee they could remain in the country illegally unless they committed a felony or three misdemeanors.  Regarding family unification, the bill’s proposal did nothing to help clear the visa backlog of family members who have already been sponsored by American citizens.  Another proposal provided a pathway to citizenship for many individuals with a variety of immigration statuses but authorized no funds for border security.  These provisions made the proposals impossible to support.

 

I believe strong border and entry security is an important step to necessary step to reform our immigration system.  Every nation, including ours, has the right to secure its borders and control its entry process for safety and economic development.  It is important to remember that the southern border is full of diverse terrain including mountains, desert, and the Rio Grande River.  I do not believe a 2,000-mile fence alone is the best and most cost-effective solution.  Technology like tethered drones, seismic sensors, and vehicle barriers are very effective in many areas of the desert Southwest.

 

The SECURE and SUCCEED Act appropriates $25 billion for a variety of border and entry security.  DHS has developed a ten-year plan for increased personnel and for a variety of infrastructure such as a wall system, fencing, levees, technology, and other physical barriers.  It also included necessary methods of enforcement, such as the permanent authorization of the voluntary electronic employment verification system (E-Verify) and the enactment of Kate’s law.

 

In addition to border and entry security, Oklahomans on both sides of the immigration debate are rightly concerned about permanency for DACA recipients.  The SECURE and SUCCEED Act provides an opportunity for 1.8 million DACA-eligible immigrants to earn naturalization in 10 to 12 years.  Much of this proposal mimics my original proposal from September 25, 2017, called the SUCCEED Act.  You can read more about the SUCCEED Act on my website

 

It is important to note that under DACA, recipients were not granted legal immigrant status, were not put on a pathway to citizenship, and did not have the right to vote in our elections.  Additionally, they are barred from receiving any federal public benefits, which would continue while the individual has conditional permanent residency.

 

Regarding family unification, our current system allows individuals who have earned a naturalization to petition for numerous extended family members, who in some instances may not otherwise qualify for a visa.  The SECURE and SUCCEED act would place reasonable limitations on family-based immigration to allow spouses and minor children visas to immigrate with their parent or spouse.  Other family members could still come to the U.S. for extended visits, but they would not get automatic citizenship eligibility.  This proposal is similar to the proposal made by the Clinton Administration in the 90s and the “Gang of Eight” bill in 2018.  It is important to note that this change would not affect individuals who have already petitioned for extended family members to enter the United States.

 

Currently, the Diversity Visa program provides green cards for up to 50,000 immigrants each year from countries with low rates of emigration to the United States.  Prospective immigrants register with the Department of State, which then selects applicants at random.  Both Republicans and Democrats have supported legislation to get rid of the diversity visa program in the past.  Similar to the Senate’s proposal in 2013, the SECURE and SUCCEED Act would end the lottery program and reallocate the visas to eliminate the existing family-based and employment-based immigration backlogs.

 

As I have said before, our nation was built on the strength and diversity of legal immigrants.  However, unchecked illegal immigration can create a serious threat to our nation’s security and a financial strain on our economy.  While I believe that all people are made in God’s image and deserve dignity and respect, it is reasonable to expect those entering and living within our borders to obey the laws of our nation.  Although the debate can get heated, we must remember that immigration is about real, live human beings, not just numbers on a page.

 

Although the SECURE and SUCCEED Act was limited to the four pillars I mentioned above, there are many other areas of our nation’s immigration system that need to be repaired by Congress, such as visa and Temporary Protected Status reform.

 

Congress needs to create clear and consistent immigration laws that establishes a better legal immigration system to disincentivize illegal immigration. As you may know, the March 5th deadline for DACA recipients became somewhat obsolete due to temporary federal court orders, but I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, in both Chambers of Congress, and in the Administration to come up with long-term solutions to fit the needs to the American people.

 

I hope this information is helpful to you.  Please feel free to contact me again via email at www.lankford.senate.gov for more information about my work in the United States Senate for all of us.

 

In God We Trust,

 

 

 

James Lankford
United States Senator

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Immigration Reform Thoughts

Looking at a Senator James Lankford Email 

 

John R. Houk

© March 15, 2018

___________________

Response from Senator James Lankford

 

Senator Lankford About Page

 

Senator James Lankford is committed to the protection of the future for our families, the transparency and efficiency of the federal government, and the ability of our nation to remain the world leader. He believes that empowering families, individuals, communities, and private enterprise will grow our economy and protect our values.

 

After serving four years in the U.S. House of Representatives, James was elected to the U.S. Senate to complete an unexpired term on November 4, 2014 and re-elected to a full six-year senate term on November 8, 2016.

 

As chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, Lankford fights unnecessary and burdensome regulation and advocates for a more restrained federal government.

 

Personal faith, local decision-making, and opportunity for every person, regardless of their background, are core values for Senator Lankford. Before his time in Congress, from 1995 to 2009, James served as Director of Student Ministry at the Baptist Convention of Oklahoma and Director of the Falls Creek Youth Camp, the largest youth camp in the United States, with more than 51,000 individuals attending each summer.

 

James lives in Edmond with his wife Cindy. They have been married for 25 years and have two daughters: Hannah and Jordan. He enjoys spending time with his family, sport shooting, and reading.

 

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