Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Immigration Debate - 2012

With the start of the Oklahoma legislative session about to begin, we can expect, once again, to hear debate around immigration issues. As always, the debate tends to organize itself around passionate extremes that don't always cut down party lines. Sadly, the debate continues to have ethnic/racial overtones, bridging over to economic (jobs) issues, and even reaching into states rights versus federal level only responsibility. Coming out of Utah, as far as I can determine, and modified to Oklahoma, and now called the Oklahoma Compact, is a declaration of five principles to guide our statewide debate around immigration. The following are components to the compact:

Federal Solutions
Immigration is a federal policy issue. We urge Oklahoma's congressional delegation, and others, to lead efforts to strengthen and reform federal laws. We recognize that border security is a critical element of national security, and further urge our congressional representatives to work to protect the borders as a part of a federal comprehensive immigration policy.

Oklahoma is best served by an economic philosophy that maximizes individual freedom and opportunity and does not place undue burdens on employers and employees. We acknowledge the economic role immigrants play as entrepreneurs, workers, taxpayers. From settlers to immigrants, newcomers have historically provided the much needed labor and ingenuity that fuels economic growth. Oklahoma's policies must advance our global reputation as a welcoming and business friendly state.

Law Enforcement
We respect the Constitution and the rule of law. We support law enforcement's professional judgment and discretion. Local law enforcement resources should focus on criminal activities, not civil violations of federal code.

Strong families are the foundation of successful communities. We oppose policies that unnecessarily separate families. We champion policies that support families and improve the health, education, and well-being of all Oklahoma children, including the continuation of access to post-secondary education for all academically qualified high school students.

Free Society
Immigrants are integrated into communities across Oklahoma. We must adopt a humane approach to this reality, reflecting our unique culture, history and spirit of inclusion. The way we treat immigrants should demonstrate our commitment to a free society. Immigrants have been an important part of our strength and prosperity throughout history. Oklahoma should always be a place that welcomes people of goodwill.

What does everyone think? Is the Compact a good place to frame the debate, and can it form a common ground for people to come together for civil discourse on this hot button issue?

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