Opposing illegal immigration does not make Republicans anti-immigrant, just as supporting the punishment of jaywalking does not make someone anti-pedestrian.
We currently have a very real humanitarian and national security crisis at our southern border, but the political debate surrounding this issue is all too often presented as a binary choice between open and closed borders.
As a member of the Republican Party who served the public for 14 years in both the executive and legislative branches, as well as someone with extensive experience in the business world, I believe the best solution for the country lies between those two extremes.
In addition to holding public office, I’ve run my own businesses since I was 18 years old.
Over those many years, I’ve had the privilege of meeting, hiring, and working alongside many people who were not born in America, but who went through the correct legal process to become citizens.
The legal immigrants I know are skilled workers who make deliberate efforts to assimilate into American culture while working diligently to provide for their families. They know that America is a melting pot, and most have found a way to blend their traditions almost seamlessly with American customs.
One man who once worked for me came here from Colombia 30 years ago. He speaks multiple languages, has a degree in hydraulic engineering, and, quite frankly, is one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever known. He loves this country and wants to see it prosper, and he’s grateful for the opportunities it offers both for him and for his two children, who were born United States citizens.
This brilliant man now employs others just like him, immigrants who have come to the United States, the correct, legal way. Though they are often uneducated but extremely hard workers, he teaches them a skill, puts them to work, and helps them to achieve the American Dream.
People like him, who are willing to work hard for a better life and proudly follow the legal immigration process because they value American citizenship so greatly, are the ones we should be welcoming into our country.
Many legal immigrants, however, are horrified by our current border crisis. Having followed the rules themselves, they’re outraged by those who sneak across America’s borders illegally with no regard for our laws, and they resent the stigma that rampant illegal immigration has created for Hispanic Americans.
Breaking into someone’s house is no way to join a family, especially when the front door is unlocked and the welcome mat is laid out.
Republicans are often unfairly maligned as anti-immigrant, but the truth is that our desire for border security is actually a pro-immigrant stance. We’re not opposed to immigration in general, and neither is President Trump; we oppose illegal immigration because it directly harms Americans — legal immigrants and native-born alike.
There’s a right way to do something, and a wrong way to do something. The president simply wants to make sure that those who come into our country are doing it the right way, and that’s something that virtually all Republicans can support.
As an American, I genuinely can’t understand why some elected officials believe it’s wrong — or even “immoral” — to protect our borders.
We shouldn’t restrict ourselves to an artificial choice between open borders or no immigration at all, and I don’t know any Republicans who think otherwise.
Andrė Bauer served as lieutenant governor of South Carolina from 2003 to 2011, and has been a pro-Trump political analyst for CNN since 2016.
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