The matter of immigration remains on the front burner for President Obama and Congress. The president has provided every opportunity for Congress to act on immigration reform.
The Senate, of course, passed a bipartisan bill a year ago, which included $40 billion for border security. The House refused to act, instead screaming, "No amnesty." Remember amnesty is defined as "forgiveness of an offense without penalty."
The Senate bill had extreme penalties -- criminal background checks; fines up to $10,000; a requirement to learn English; a requirement to pay back taxes; a 10-year wait for a green card and an additional three-year wait before being considered for possible citizenship. It is Congress that has poisoned the well.
For years the country strongly supported immigration reform. But the latest influx of unaccompanied children fleeing violence and poverty seems to have changed some minds. This movement is not an immigration issue, but a humanitarian crisis. The children did not escape capture. They gave up to authorities upon reaching the U.S.
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The answer to our broken immigration system is not just border security. It is a matter of dealing compassionately with the 11 million already here, many seeking only a better life for themselves and their families, more than 50 percent of whom have been here for more than 10 years.
Mass deportation is an immoral thought and not economically viable for a country built by immigrants. The Lowcountry Immigration Coalition supports legal presidential executive action to provide a reprieve from deportations for many of the undocumented residents. The time is now.
George Kanuck and Eric Esquivel
Bluffton and Hilton Head Island
Editor's Note: Kanuch and Esquivel are the co-chairmen of The Lowcountry Immigration Coalition.