Paul Pelosi’s attack is a reminder of a broken immigration system



The attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul, has generated waves of lies, conspiracy theories and fodder for internet trolls. But there is one narrative that has been largely overlooked. The assault underscores the long overdue need for immigration reform.

Paul Pelosi’s alleged attacker, David DePape,
was illegally in the country,
according to the Department of Homeland Security. Born in Canada, he arrived legally in the United States through a port of entry in California in 2008. He never left.

If you listen to our politicians, the issue of immigration is all about “border security”, a convenient slogan that often means wasting billions of taxpayers’ dollars sending troops to the border and generating photo ops for campaign advertisements.

From 2009 to 2019, people like DePape who come here legally and overstay their visas outnumber people who cross illegally.
about two to one.

While Mexicans account for the most overstays, Canadians like DePape are the second-highest group. This may explain why visa overstays, although a big part of the immigration problem, receive so little attention. Let’s face it, hard-line Canadians aren’t going to scare voters at the polls. Furthermore, politicians prefer not to draw attention to the undocumented migrants who are already here because they might have to explain why they have not done more to solve the problem.

The difference between DePape and others who overstay their visas is that most of them are not charged with committing crimes, and certainly not with trying to attack the third most powerful elected official. from the country. In fact, American citizens are
twice as likely to be arrested for violent crimes
as undocumented immigrants.

Most of those who have overstayed their visas have been in the country for 10 years or more. Many contribute to society. They own homes and businesses – some even
create jobs for native Americans.

In writing and producing documentaries on immigration issues over the past six years, I have spoken to a number of undocumented immigrants. While they fear violating DHS, most try to comply with all other laws and regulations to avoid attracting attention.

An undocumented business owner told me several years ago that he keeps his company’s vehicles up to date with registration and insurance, and he personally makes sure that even his fishing license does not expire.

He doesn’t want to do anything that could get him expelled. He worried about what would happen to his family, including his American children, and his six legal employees if he did.

The last thing he would do would be break into the home of a congressman intent on kidnapping her.

But it’s precisely because more undocumented people are like him, not DePape, that immigration’s greatest challenge remains unaddressed. It’s not because our politicians don’t know it, it’s because they prefer the system as it is.

Many undocumented people come here for the economic opportunity to build a better life. The country, in turn, needs it. With an unemployment rate of 3.7% and nearly two job openings for every available worker, American businesses are in desperate need of workers.

The 11.5 million undocumented immigrants who already live here – many of whom have expired visas – would go a long way to meeting that need, but we seem to prefer a system that has been broken for decades. The only realistic way to address this is to grant undocumented immigrants already in the country who do not have criminal records some sort of legal status. It doesn’t have to be citizenship, but we need a system that tracks them while allowing them to live and work without fear of deportation.

This would allow employers to hire them legally and openly, provide them with benefits and other benefits of full employment, and enable workers to demand fair wages. By not being forced to live in the shadows, these workers could fully participate in our economy – opening bank accounts, getting loans, buying big-ticket items like new cars and homes.

These advantages would add
about $1.7 trillion for the US economy
over the next decade, according to an analysis by the Center for American Progress. No economic policy – ​​tax cuts, spending cuts, stimulus packages – offered by an elected official in recent years has come close to promising such an economic boost.

It would also make it easier to take down accused criminals like DePape, as it would be harder for them to hide in the shadows.

But our broken system persists because of political cowardice. Politicians, especially on the right, have been terrified of tackling immigration since House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his Virginia primary in 2014 after right-wing trolls turned immigration into a political brick. Since then, the cry from the right has been “no amnesty”. But we already have amnesty. Millions of undocumented immigrants, including David LaPape, enjoy de facto amnesty every day due to a lack of bipartisan leadership on immigration reform.

Meaningful reform would involve diplomacy, compromise and understanding – currencies that no longer have value in Washington. It is easier to send troops to the border.

We are all left to foot the bill for border troops, charter bus rides and other political stunts. But if our politicians actually did their job on immigration, not only would we have fewer David DePapes, but we would also reap the economic benefits at a time when the country needs all the economic help it can get.

Loren Steffy is co-author of
Deconstructed: An insider’s perspective on illegal immigration and the construction trades
and executive producer of the Rational Middle Immigration series.

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