Immigration merits better system

Immigration has become an unnecessary wedge between us in the search for social solidarity. We are all immigrants, but pressures from new threats to our world now could cause harm if no modifications are made to our immigration policies.

President Donald Trump’s new edicts on immigration limits may be too extreme, but a 40 percent reduction in new immigrants compared to the havoc wreaked in Europe by open borders makes it seem much less onerous. The American people are not xenophobic; they are just worried about the emergence of Islamic terrorists here at home and abroad. That is what has given immigration policy a critical role in our politics.

Trump was elected with an America First message to be applied to all things affecting us, including immigration. Many immigrants have made tremendous contributions to our country — none of that has changed. What has changed is the danger of infiltration of the United States by forces dedicated to our destruction, using holes in our borders and our liberal immigration policies for that purpose.

America is the first choice of immigrants from all over the world, and we have accepted more of them than any other country on Earth. We need immigration, but also common sense and measures to protect ourselves. The average American believes in assimilation, English as a first language, and total loyalty to the U.S.A. That is not asking too much.

Now let’s get to work on reforming and improving our system of immigration. The most recently suggested approach for a merit system makes a lot of sense; it is an America First policy. Under the merit system, once an immigrant receives a green card permit to be here and work here permanently, they bring their family here.

That’s fine for holding families together, but under the new plan the theory of merit would also be introduced.

Not enough of over 1 million new legal immigrants each year arrive with any direct potential contribution to our economic growth. Draft legislation introduced last week would create a merit system whereby 140,000 employment visas issued would be based on a point system. If the applicant for immigration has a job offer and is under 30, well educated and fluent in English, they go to the top of the list. If an applicant has money to invest in a new business and can manage it for three years or more, they would also get preference. A new application process would favor those who speak some English, can support themselves and their families, and have skills that could contribute to our economy.

If the new point system makes sense and benefits the country economically, then it should be expanded, producing more productive new citizens, at least among 140,000 of the new immigrants allowed in.

The bottom line is that we have every right to place the needs and protection of all of us already here ahead of those who wish to come here. We should proceed with caution in dangerous times. While we must not discriminate against or punish law-abiding undocumented citizens by heartlessly breaking up families, it is essential that criminals among the immigrant population be identified and deported. Our nation’s law enforcement agencies must not be interfered with in their duties to protect us. Amnesty cities should not be allowed to exist for the protection of a criminal element within the illegal immigrant population.

On the local scene, caution should be employed. Over-exuberance in wishing to show our compassion should not be substituted for sensible policy. Strains on educational costs, welfare disbursements and housing needs should be considerations when putting out an open-ended welcoming mat to new immigrants.

Maine’s largest city is currently witnessing the results of a mayor with an overly aggressive progressive political agenda. Ethan Strimling, Portland’s mayor, has drawn the ire of his city council and is engaged in open warfare with the city manager. Strimling’s socialistic goals should come as no surprise to those who followed his career as a Democrat senator in Augusta. His dictatorial style has him in big trouble with those he needs to accomplish his agenda in that ranked-choice voting city.

Central Maine political leadership would do well to talk with citizens in Portland and Lewiston to help prepare for immigration effects both good and bad, as we welcome our additional new immigrants here.

Don Roberts is a veteran broadcaster, writer and political consultant. He has served Augusta as a city councilor at-large, charter commission vice chairman and utilities district treasurer.