Organizing For Action volunteers had a grassroots event Saturday outside Congressman Trent Franks’ office in Glendale, urging him to work on immigration reform.
Todd Landfried, the executive director of Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform, said they’ve been trying to get comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level for seven years.
He said this was another event where they try to get the message out to members of Congress,
“The issues of border security isn’t just about fences and soldiers and law enforcement-type efforts,” said Landried, who indicated there needs to be visa reform in order to deal with the “draw of why people come here.”
Landfried said people need to be taken out of trying to get across through the desert and have them go through the proper channels such as “border centers,” like there is in Nogales. “We know who they are. We know why they’re coming here,” he said. “We can get the proper documentation” and they can get driver’s licenses, insurance and pay their taxes.
“If you’re really serious about doing border security, you have to deal with economic draw of why people come here,” he said.
Landfried said most of AEFIR’s members are very conservative Republicans. “We’re all business owners, we all believe in free markets, but that doesn’t mean we believe in open borders.”
He said they believe in the rule of law, people should come here legally, and employers should only hire people legally.
But, he said, a big part of the problem is that if employers can’t find the workers they need domestically, the only alternative they have is to go out of business or find labor however they can, and the role of government is to help them address that issue.
“Not doing something punitive” like what SB 1070 did, but “not do anything for the demand for labor.” Landfried said the law should make it so employers can find the workers they need legally and people can come here and do it legally. “That’s how you solve the problem.”
Lee Askern of Surprise was there because those participating have “strong feelings” on the subject of immigration and the group encompasses different age groups and backgrounds.
“I think the kids who are identified as ‘Dreamers’ have done nothing wrong,” said Askern, a retiree. “They came over as children, they had no choice in the matter, yet they’re being penalized.”
Askern mentioned the citizenship aspect, not being allowed to get driver’s licenses, not getting in-state school tuition even though many have lived here their whole lives.
“I don’t think this country should treat its immigrants in that manner,” he said.
Glendale resident Brian Goodall, who works in children’s services, said he is very passionate about immigration reform. “I’ve seen the impact of the broken system; how it impacts kids and their inability to do well in school because of the fear that they live with.”
He said it has long-lasting impact on the mental psyche and it causes them to be stagnant. “They don’t have those dreams everybody else has and they’re deserving of those dreams,” and they should be allowed to “dream big.”
Marvin McCollum of Peoria said he’s been working on comprehensive immigration reform for two to three months, getting petitions signed three days a week at Valley View Community Food Bank in Sun City and the Surprise library.
He said immigration reform is not a partisan issue. “It’s whether you’re trying to do the right thing for our country,” and of the 11 million people, “some of them have probably been here for generations, some of them have their ancestoral history here. They have more right to be here than we do.”
McCollum said because this became part of the United States, “We’re supposed to kick them out? We’re the ones that are infringing on them with Manifest Destiny.”
He would like them to be allowed to get legitimate jobs and driver’s licenses. “Why not put them on Uncle Sam’s dime where they start paying their legitimate federal taxes, they pay into Social Security, which they can’t participate into Social Security, until you’re a citizen.”
With the immigration reform, it would take them 13 years to become citizens and McCollum said that is 13 years of Social Security they’d be paying into, which would “help everybody else until they become a citizen.”
He sees the positive aspect of immigration reform the politicians don’t look at. “My only thing is, if you’re unhappy with your politician, let’s change him up.”