By Kyle Sepe
Staff Columnist

Many generations have come to America for various reasons, but they are all united by one common objective: to seek a better life. We have the freedom and opportunity to pursue our own American dream. It is this immense notion that attracts law-abiding immigrants to become American citizens. While the legal process can take years, those who pursue it should be encouraged and commended. Recently, however, the system is faltering.

First, our borders must be secure. It is the duty of the federal government to secure our borders and to protect its citizens. In 2011, the Government Accountability Office reported that only 44 percent of the southwest border is controlled by the U.S. Border Patrol. President Barack Obama avowed in 2008, “I will make it a top priority in my first year as president…because we have an obligation to secure our borders and get control of who comes in and out of our country.”

Evidently President Obama has not met his promise. While the number of deported illegal immigrants is on the rise and crime has been decreasing since 2000, it is vital that our entire border is secure to obstruct further illegal immigration, drug violence, human trafficking, and other related crimes. A border only 44 percent secure is not safe.

Nevertheless, President Obama plans to cut the number of National Guard troops from 1,200 to 300 while closing nine Border Patrol stations due to “budget cuts,” according to a White House report. When progress is being made, failed policies are getting in the way.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration has not tackled this issue at the federal level. States are left to fend for themselves to develop their own immigration laws. One example is the Senate Bill 1070 (SB 1070). Ruled constitutional, SB 1070 will permit law enforcement officials during a “lawful stop” to determine if someone is an illegal immigrant if there is “reasonable suspicion”, which will work towards securing the Arizona border while managing illegal immigration statewide.

However, the Department of Justice sued Arizona over SB 1070 claiming it isn’t in accordance with current immigration policies and leads to “unlawful discrimination” for those who cannot provide legal verification. There are many disagreements on this law, but both sides can agree that reform is needed. Arizona is doing what President Obama should be doing: working to secure the border. The Obama administration’s inept ability to handle illegal immigration at the federal level is not moving us forward.

Another example lies within President Obama’s controversial executive order to discontinue the deportations of about 800,000 young illegal immigrants. When the number of deportations continues to increase under Obama, why would he do this without any long-term solutions? This not only questions America’s immigration policy, but sets a precedent for illegal immigration in the future, discouraging those who come here legally. When President Obama’s re-election is approaching, politics are put ahead of policy.

To repair the broken system, we need strong exit verification systems to make sure visas are not overstayed, in addition to an employment verification system to make it easy for employers to verify that those they hire are eligible to work in America. We must find a way to promote legal status for those who come through no fault of their own, who have their own American dream too. We need a president to lead a bipartisan effort to ensure a long-term solution. Finally, we must fix our worsening economy to guarantee our border security is paramount at the federal level.

Illegal immigration is a contentious issue, but we need a president who won’t lead from behind. Immigration is at the core of America, but sadly illegal immigration is yet another failed policy under President Obama.

The Elm

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