We must secure our borders, reform immigration now


The United States must secure our borders and reform our broken immigration system. This demands immediate action, not delay tactics for political convenience. American citizens are owed this much.

Our immigration system’s shortcomings have been a longstanding issue, with decades of inaction due to a lack of political will on both sides. The U.S. Constitution explicitly assigns Congress the responsibility and power to fix this problem, yet the 118th Congress has been notably ineffective, the least productive Congress since the Great Depression. This stagnation is largely attributed to the prevailing hyper-partisanship and an inclination toward political theatrics over substantive legislative work.

The behavior exhibited within the halls of Congress — ranging from personal attacks and physical altercations among members, to successive attempts to oust the speaker of the House, to catcalls at the State of the Union Address — underscores a departure from the principles of civility in government. Sadly, many of our representatives have embraced chaos and dysfunction as a substitute for governance. And in the wake of this chaos, the effort to solve the migrant crisis and its unprecedented impact on New York has been sidelined.

Fixing our complex immigration system requires a balanced approach that secures our borders while extending compassion to law-abiding immigrants. Although challenging, a solution is within reach through diligent effort and bipartisan collaboration.

The Senate’s bipartisan border security deal was a promising development, which laid the groundwork for meaningful reform. The bill proposed new measures to secure the border, streamline the asylum process, and end the broad release of migrants into communities. This initiative was crafted by Democrats and Republicans, and garnered support across the political spectrum. It was supported by the National Border Patrol Council — the union representing the men and women who protect our border. Despite some imperfections, the deal represented a significant step forward, embodying the essence of compromise and cooperation that is foundational to American democracy.

However, opposition from figures like Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, who immediately criticized the bill as “disastrous” and who has held fast to a hyper-partisan position on immigration, exemplifies the obstacles to progress. D’Esposito’s refusal to engage in any real attempt to move border solutions forward, coupled with his shocking recent praise of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for sending nearly 40,000 migrants to our state, highlight a disturbing trend of prioritizing partisan loyalty over constructive problem-solving.

The empty rhetoric and finger-pointing of elected officials like D’Esposito, characterized by a lack of commitment to real solutions, fail to serve the interests of Americans. In contrast, my approach in Congress will be to collaborate with all parties to achieve comprehensive, bipartisan immigration reform. This includes enhancing border security by hiring more border patrol-agents, deploying additional advanced “smart” technology and building strategic physical barriers. It also includes reforming the system to expedite the asylum and deportation processes and to provide clear paths to citizenship for hard-working, eligible people in search of better lives.

Performative politics and a refusal to engage with bipartisan solutions not only impede progress, but also betray the trust of the American people. The time for action is now, and it requires leaders willing to prioritize effective governance over partisan fealty and gamesmanship. Long Island, New York state and the entire nation deserve better.

Laura Gillen, a former Hempstead town supervisor, is a Democratic candidate in the 4th Congressional District.