Broken borders, Broken system

A multi-part series of editorials and columns regarding the issue of immigration reform.

When a surge of Central Americans descended on the Rio Grande Valley to cross into this country illegally in the summer of 2014, the cries to ‘Seal our border,’ and ‘Reform immigration’ reverberated across the country. The Monitor quickly determined that, beyond the rhetoric, many of those screaming the loudest had few specific policy recommendations to fix the problem. The Monitor editorial board began talking to law enforcement, policymakers, human rights activists, local readers and the immigrants themselves in search of answers. This series represents the culmination of at least six months of research and interviews with scores of people. It is presented on these pages in the hopes of spurring discourse about one of the most significant public policy debates to visit our country and our region in decades.

Strengthening US ties with Mexico and Central America

With 95 percent of the world’s consumers living beyond America’s borders — accounting for 80 percent of the world’s purchasing power — establishing stronger trade ties is an important tool to help our economy grow.

Through trade and immigration, the United States and our neighbors have become increasingly interconnected. Now, when our neighbors suffer we suffer. But the reverse is also true. The better our trading partners do, the better we do. I was reminded of that recently, when I had the opportunity to visit Mexico and Central America as part of a Congressional delegation trip that focused in part on strengthening the United States’ trade ties to the region.

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Border security in RGV affected by political grandstanding in DC

Once again, this week our country faces a crisis that is self-manufactured, compliments of our elected leadership in Washington.

That those yelling the loudest about the need to secure our international borders would nearly allow funding to lapse on the very people who are charged with securing our borders, seems hypocritical in the best of circumstances — and criminal in the worst.

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Immigrant surge — Time for Congress to act

In 2014, South Texas became the epicenter of an immigration surge unlike any our country has experienced in its history.

Hundreds of thousands of immigrants, including an unprecedented number of unaccompanied minors, entered our lands illegally this past year. They were driven by crime, gangs and poverty in their homelands — most from Central America — and lured by freedoms and prosperity that they believe await them in the United States.

But for so many, the journey was perilous and fraught with unspeakable horrors.

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Rising immigrant populations

For those advocating a strict seal-the-border immigration policy in the United States, Jonathan Last, senior writer for the conservative Weekly Standard and author of the book What to Expect When No One’s Expecting: America’s Demographic Disaster told a McAllen audience in late 2013 to look at the example of Japan.

For a period in the 1980s, he reminded the audience during a Monitor Newsmaker Breakfast Series discussion, Japan’s economic might looked unstoppable and symbolic acquisitions of such hallowed American places, like Rockefeller Center, only underscored that country’s growing influence.

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Texas jobs and dreams

President Barack Obama announced this month that 2014 was the best year of job growth since 1999. And here in South Texas, we are seeing very similar results.

According to the Texas Workforce Commission, in the McAllen, Edinburg, Mission metropolitan statistical area the unemployment rate dropped from 10.3 percent in November 2013 to 8.2 percent last month. During the same time period, the cities of McAllen and Edinburg’s unemployment rates dropped considerably. McAllen went from 6.5 percent last year to 5 percent this year; Edinburg went from 6.8 percent in 2013 to 5.5 percent this year. Our nation, our state and our region of South Texas are all seeing a positive trend in the increase of employed residents. I firmly believe that education and bolstering our workforce is the key to successfully lowering unemployment rates.

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