• Say what? Arizona LEADS on immigration reform
    posted by Julie Erfle at 5 December, 10:24 AM  0 
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    Much to the chagrin of comedians, Arizona is moving away from its embarrassing headlines on immigration extremism and embracing a S.A.N.E. approach.

    After more than two years of work, the Real Arizona Coalition has put together a platform for federal immigration reform supported by almost 40 state organizations, which include thousands of individuals such as business leaders, law enforcement officials, the faith community, civil rights activists, political leaders and more.

    The effort is historic because it brings together people from opposite sides of the aisle for a grand compromise, something that hasn’t been attempted in years. It pairs Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, a staunch conservative and Tea Party favorite, with the former Chair of the National Council of La Raza, Daniel Ortega, Jr. Who could have guessed we’d see these two individuals on the same side of a legislative debate?

    Others have joined in as well, and it is this team effort that makes me believe that for the first time in the five years I’ve been advocating for federal immigration reform, it may actually happen. I’m almost speechless. Almost.

    Though the platform has the backing of influential leaders such as Montgomery and Ortega as well as former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, we still need Arizona’s congressional delegation to move the platform forward and begin work on federal legislation.

    I remain optimistic because I’ve seen a real desire for compromise and civil discourse by members of Arizona’s congressional delegation. Just this past Sunday, reporter E.J. Montini wrote about Republican Congressman-elect Matt Salmon’s and Democratic Congressman Ed Pastor’s friendship and their desire to work together for the good of this state and country.

    Consensus is tough, and this platform was not easy to obtain. As Ms. O’Connor said, “We agreed. We disagreed. And we compromised to produce what we regard as the S.A.N.E. solution.”

    So what is this S.A.N.E. platform? It’s a framework for policymakers to address immigration reform by

    Securing our sovereign borders

    Accounting for everyone in the U.S. without lawful authority

    Necessary bureaucratic reform implementation

    Engaging all levels of government

    In a nutshell it means that yes, we must secure our borders, but no, we must not seal them. The goal is operational control of the border, like what has been achieved in the Yuma Sector, without inhibiting trade with our most important partner.

    We must reform our outdated visa system. We need a system that responds to changes in the market, whether those changes are in the low-skilled or high-tech sectors, and create a secure system for all employers to verify work eligibility.

    And we must deal with the most controversial area of reform: the 11 million or so undocumented immigrants currently in this country. We know that we cannot deport nor would we want to deport 11 million people, but we also know amnesty – forgiving past wrongs and granting automatic citizenship — will not work and is a nonstarter for many Americans.

    Instead, the S.A.N.E. platform offers temporary legal status to those who are currently undocumented, provided those individuals have no felony convictions, pay any taxes due, and undergo a background check. After five years those with temporary legal status who have completed all necessary administrative steps may apply for permanent legal status.

    Those who are currently here undocumented who hope to one day gain citizenship will not be able to move to the front of the line but rather wait, on average, eight to ten years before being able to apply.

    This platform will not satisfy everyone. Indeed, most people will want to add their own personal tweaks. However, compromise is a must if we wish to move this issue forward.

    The eventual legislation will be a battle and everyone pushing for reform will be bruised in some way or another. But if individuals such as Dulce Matuz, president of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, and Bob Worsley, the newly elected Republican State Senator from District 25, can find a way to come together, can’t we all?

    I encourage everyone to read more about the platform and sign on in support at therealarizona.org. This could be the beginning of a new role for Arizona, one that will make headlines for the right reasons.

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    Julie Erfle

    Post Author: Julie Erfle

    Bio: The story behind this blog begins in 2007 when, on an ordinary September morning, my world was unexpectedly smashed to pieces. A drugged-up gang banger with multiple arrests and outstanding warrants crossed my husband’s path. As my husband and his partner attempted to arrest him, he pulled a gun and shot my husband twice in the back of the head. The murder of a Phoenix police officer is big news. Bigger still is the fact that this happened at the hands of a previously deported illegal immigrant in a border state rife with contentious immigration battles. As I listened to the politicians and pundits spin my husband’s death to further their interests, my journalism background came into focus and I found myself doing my own research into the causes and possible solutions to our nation’s immigration problems. I also gained an awareness of what it was like to be on the opposite side of the lens. I had been a member of the media, and now my family was the subject of the story. When I went public with my views on immigration, I was drawn even further into the political web of Arizona politics, and though I shied away for a time, I felt I could no longer be silent. And so I created this blog, my editorial on the challenges facing our state and our nation. My expectation is that it will be used as a source of reasoned debate to elevate our discussions in a thoughtful and informed manner while seeking solutions to complex problems. I hope the differing opinions expressed by myself and others will both challenge and motivate individuals to work for the greater good.

    Website: http://politicsuncuffed.com/

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