Mike Reagan: Embrace Rubio Plan

Monday, 11 Feb 2013 09:10 PM

By Michael Reagan

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The bold and bipartisan Senate immigration plan put forth by Sen. Marco Rubio is a good step in the right direction and should be embraced as such by conservatives of all parties who want to continue the “Reagan legacy.”

Make no mistake about it, my father Ronald Reagan would be happy to see the Republicans taking a leadership position on this issue as they join with common-sense Democrats.

If a plan like the Rubio one was implemented, it would change the perception by the immigrant population that many conservatives are anti-immigrant.

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Basically, the plan introduced by the Florida Republican in January — supported by Senators McCain and Graham — includes steps to give more than 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States legal status.

Like many of you, I simply hate illegal immigration and I don’t want it promoted in any way.

The Rubio plan acknowledges that as a practical matter we cannot deport more than 10 million people living in the United States.

But we can make sure they pay taxes and are identified for national security reasons!

Under the proposed plan, illegals who have committed no crimes could gain temporary status so they could remain in the country and work, and they could later apply to become permanent residents.

Those illegals would have to identify themselves, be fingerprinted, pay a fine and, yes, back taxes.

The plan’s first step would be to provide legal status to young immigrants who were brought to this country as children by their illegal immigrant parents.

Rubio would also allow more immigrants to enter the country legally if they have backgrounds in areas including science, math or engineering and can qualify for high-tech positions. This is a smart because America should always be open to the “best and brightest” around the globe – a plan that will keep us pre-eminent in many fields.

The Rubio plan would set up a guest-worker program to help meet the needs of American growers, since most of the 1.6 million agricultural laborers in the country are illegal immigrants.

The League of American Voters, a national grassroots organization for which I serve as chairman, agrees that the Rubio plan is the best starting point for a sensible, comprehensive immigration reform plan.

Most importantly, the League has called for tighter border security and controls. The Rubio plan is predicated on that happening first.

I’m very supportive of the outline of this plan because the conservative movement needs to be out front on this issue. You can’t lead from behind; you can only lead from the front.

There may be areas of agreement and disagreement within the plan but it is a plan,which neither the Democratic nor the Republican Party has had in a long time.

My father would be very happy to see the Republican Party take a leadership position on this issue rather than taking a back seat as they have for so long.

There are people out there who are going to claim that the plan amounts to amnesty. The truth is that fulfilling the requirements for work status and eventual citizenship are not easy. They’re tough, with fines and restitution.

Add to that, the process of citizenship could take as long as 15 years.

The American people are not against immigration. Exit polls from the recent 2012 election showed an overwhelming number of Americans want a process by which illegals can be given status to work and pay taxes.

The League of American Voters agrees with that sentiment.

On a personal note, I can say that my Dad would certainly back the idea that the children of immigrants, brought to this country by their parents, should be able to stay here.

In fact, one of those children serves aboard the USS Ronald Reagan. He ultimately became a proud citizen of the United States because he wanted to thank the country that allowed him to become a citizen. This young man joined the Navy at the age of 18.
He volunteered to serve aboard the Ronald Reagan, the namesake of the president.
Today,  he mentors 275 other sailors on the ship, making them better sailors and better people in the process.

I am a supporter of the Rubio plan because it is a plan.The League understands that the Rubio plan has not been published in detail, and a new House plan is emerging as well.

Ronald Reagan said politics is the art of negotiation. You’re never going to get everything you want but you’ve got to move the ball down the field, and that is what people like Marco Rubio, Eric Cantor and Jeb Bush have been doing.

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We need to look at these things and find the areas of agreement. Ronald Reagan looked at things and said let’s find areas of agreement and make that the start of negotiations, instead of areas of disagreement where you never start at all.

If you’re going to use my father’s name, use it correctly and understand Ronald Reagan was truly a uniter.

Michael Reagan, a national commentator, is chairman of the League of American Voters, a national grassroots organization that supports our free enterprise system. For more information go to leagueofamericanvoters.com.

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