Krishnamoorthi: Wall won't solve America's immigration woes

  • Brian Hill/bhill@dailyherald.comU.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi discusses what he says is the United States' broken immigration system with the Daily Herald Editorial Board in Arlington Heights.

    Brian Hill/bhill@dailyherald.comU.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi discusses what he says is the United States' broken immigration system with the Daily Herald Editorial Board in Arlington Heights.

 
 
Updated 10/14/2019 5:20 PM

Solving America's immigration problems can't be oversimplified as a choice between building walls and having open borders, or granting amnesty to nearly 11 million people living in the country illegally and not accepting more refugees, says U.S. Rep Raja Krishnamoorthi.

"A country without borders is not a country," the Schaumburg Democrat recently told the Daily Herald Editorial Board. "That being said, walls are not a solution."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Krishnamoorthi believes any long-term fix for America's broken system must include streamlining legal immigration to attract and retain skilled workers, clearing backlogs of visa-holders awaiting permanent residency status and providing a pathway to citizenship for those here illegally.

"The vast majority are not criminals," Krishnamoorthi said. "I believe that they should be given a pathway to citizenship in this country, provided that they have staked meaningful roots, that they haven't committed crimes, and they're willing to go to the back of the line."

Having seen firsthand the conditions at immigration detention centers across the U.S.-Mexico border, Krishnamoorthi is concerned about the Trump administration's handling of asylum-seekers and others who cross the border illegally. He called the policy of sending asylum-seekers who breach the southern border back to Mexico to await processing in overcapacity detention centers illegal.

"Within our law, there is no provision where you send people to another country to await coming here for asylum," Krishnamoorthi said. "We have to deal with these people in a humane way. We should never have been separating families. That's going to be a big stain on the history of the United States that we ever separated children from their mothers or their families. Some of these children are just floating in the system right now."

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The Office of Refugee Resettlement has custody over thousands of unaccompanied minors seized by immigration officials. In 2018, the Department of Homeland Security referred 49,100 unaccompanied minors to the agency and 14,088 children were under its care for 60 days, on average.

Of the nearly 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally, between 2 million and 4 million were brought here as children and attend school.

Krishnamoorthi said the DREAM and Promise Act of 2019, passed by the House in June, would grant temporary legal status to those previously shielded from deportation by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

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