Immigration and National Security

We need both secure borders and an efficient process for admitting new residents to our country.  But building Mr. Trump’s foolish wall would waste many billions of dollars.  That will be our money wasted: Mexico will not pay for Trump’s folly.

It is a fact that illegal immigration has decreased under President Obama.  And undocumented immigrants that commit violent crimes should be, and have been, deported.  But that is a small minority of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the US, and for the great number that live among us as neighbors we need a humane solution.  To leave them in the shadows would risk creating an underclass that never becomes “American” and feels permanently alienated from our society.  Mr. Trump’s proposed mass deportations would rip apart families and be costly and counterproductive.  Parents would be deported while their US-born children would be left behind in need of public support.  That’s why I support a sensible path for undocumented immigrants to earn a green card and eventually citizenship.  The path would include passing a background check, paying taxes, paying a penalty, and learning English.

Instability and poverty south of our border create the conditions that encourage immigrants to travel north, while economic opportunities and safety in their home countries will reduce illegal immigration.  So, it is wise to continue to encourage economic development in Latin America and support Mexico in its fight against the powerful, violent drug cartels.

Of course, our foreign policy should make America more secure – but let’s reject those who try to manipulate us with fear.  We don’t have to fear foreigners, China, or ISIS.  We must be more strongly linked with our allies and build bridges.  Isolationism will make us weaker.  We get stronger by promoting fairer trade and a competitive, dynamic American economy that continues to innovate and provides good jobs.

America also needs to continue to be an example of freedom and all that means – freedom of the press, of expression, of association, and the freedom to pursue happiness.  We must continue to promote the growth of democracies around the world because democratic governments are key to advancing human dignity, security and prosperity.

A strong military is important, but US engagement shouldn’t be predominantly military intervention in reaction to events.  Our role should be to engage with our allies in the world’s unstable countries to assist and build up local governments – like the Marshall Plan returned Europe to stability after World War II.  The principle non-military tools to use first include cultural, economic and educational outreach that builds bridges to other nations and people around the world and spreads American and western values of pluralism and democracy, while helping to promote economic and social progress and stability.  We should be promoting opportunities for advancement that include education, worker rights, environmental protection and public health.  Smart, consistent aid of this kind can help to avoid larger future military deployments to quell unrest.