Eagle editorial: Heed call for immigration reform

Good for Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer and 31 other Kansas mayors for urging our congressional delegation to support immigration reform. But will delegation members heed that call and act? Unlikely.

The mayors recently wrote the delegation, saying they “are deeply concerned about the immigration problem that continues to plague our state and nation.” They noted how immigration affects local communities and indicated that they favored a comprehensive solution.

“The immigrant population of Kansas includes valued members of our community,” the mayors wrote. “We are supportive of a solution that allows reasonable access to citizenship while assuring adequate border security.”

The letter was spearheaded by Brewer and Lenexa Mayor Mike Boehm. Other mayors came from large and small cities throughout the state, including Mount Hope and Belle Plaine.

Top Kansas business groups have also called on the delegation to support reform. The Kansas Business Coalition for Immigration Reform – composed of more than 20 organizations including the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Farm Bureau and the Wichita Independent Business Association – endorsed the comprehensive approach of the Senate-passed immigration bill.

“We are pleased with provisions that seek to simplify the immigration process, allow for temporary work visas, create a special agricultural guest-worker program, and provide a path for undocumented persons to remain in the United States, gain work authorization and eventual citizenship,” the coalition wrote.

Despite this backing from business and city leaders and others, including evangelical groups, the Kansas delegation is unlikely to support comprehensive reform. Both Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran voted against the Senate bill, and the House is refusing to consider a comprehensive bill.

A main talking point in the House is that the United States needs to secure its southern border before it considers broader immigration reforms. Though border security is important, this can be an easy excuse to avoid action.

As an article in The Eagle noted last week, there are more agents and more fencing at the border than ever, and more people are being deported and fewer immigrants are trying to enter the country illegally. What’s more, the Senate bill doubles the size of the U.S. Border Patrol and completes 700 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. How much more money do we need to spend?

Most people agree that our current immigration system is broken. Not only is comprehensive reform needed, it’s the only approach that can clear a divided Congress, as Republicans and Democrats both need to compromise.

The mayors wrote that comprehensive reform would “allow our economies to grow while protecting the quality of life of our citizens.” That’s what our congressional delegation should want, too.

For the editorial board, Phillip Brownlee