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Your View by US Rep. Susan Wild: It’s time to do something about the Southern border


There is unquestionably a crisis at our Southern border — and this is something that almost everyone, no matter their political persuasion, can agree on.

Sadly, rather than fixing the problem, members of Congress have long treated the Southern border as a lightning rod to advance their own agenda. It is long past time for Congress to stop playing politics with this issue and focus on finding a bipartisan compromise. Politicians who want to do nothing more than rile people up via cable news appearances frankly need to get out of the way.

It is important to recognize that solving the crisis at the Southern border is not the same as comprehensive immigration reform, another issue that we’ve long punted. But, unfortunately our Southern border cannot wait, and immediate steps must be taken to fix it.

Some of us in Congress truly wish to work together in a bipartisan manner. It is a real shame that reasonable people in Congress don’t get the kind of airtime that rabble rousers and dissidents get; otherwise, you might be more aware of our efforts.

In February, after months of negotiation, the Senate unveiled a bipartisan border security bill that would have been the toughest and fairest immigration reform the United States has seen in decades. Yet even after members of his party negotiated the bill, House Speaker Mike Johnson declared it “dead on arrival.”

So, rather than taking a meaningful first step to improving our border security infrastructure, supporting our border patrol agents and ensuring our border communities have the resources they need, the bill was killed because it’s an election year, and too many politicians wanted to run on the issue of a broken Southern border. This is shameful.

And it isn’t even the only bipartisan solution that has been drafted and ignored. In the House, I worked alongside my Democratic and Republican colleagues on the Dignity Act, a broad piece of legislation crafted by moderate lawmakers that would immediately address critical elements of our immigration system, restore order at our Southern border and implement long-term, much needed changes.

The Dignity Act would increase border patrol personnel and provide cutting-edge screening technology to help detect contraband and illegal substances; change our political asylum system by constructing facilities in Latin America, where asylum seekers would be screened for eligibility; require employers to verify the immigration status of their employees, and create a pathway to citizenship for “Dreamers.” In other words, it would strengthen our border infrastructure while preserving our American values. But it too has been ignored by House leadership.

And recently, I joined a group of Democrats to form the Border Security Task Force, a working group focused on cutting down on the illegal flow of narcotics into our communities, strengthening partnerships with Canada and Mexico to help deal with the crisis, and equipping jurisdictions that receive asylum seekers with the proper resources. We are also working to protect access to visas for seasonal workers and improve efficiency for legal pathways to citizenship.

Many of us in Congress have proven time and time again that we are more than willing to work with members of either party on large-scale policy proposals to address border and immigration challenges. However, we are held hostage by the extreme politicians who continue to stall our efforts in the name of cheap political stunts.

No one is going to get everything they want, but there are good options on the table, if we can only put aside our differences and work together on behalf of the American people. So, when people ask me what we are going to do to fix our immigration problems, I ask them to use their voices, to be loud and clear that they want every member of Congress, Democrat or Republican, to demand that these proposed solutions receive a vote on the House floor.

The most important part of my job is representing my district — my community — in Congress. My focus is always on citizens in the greater Lehigh Valley.

We may be a long way from the U.S.-Mexico border, but the problems created by a broken system affect us too, particularly with regard to the entry of illegal drugs into our country.

Our employers have told me, time and again, that their No. 1 issue is lack of a workforce, and yet we know that there are hundreds if not thousands of people who could be properly vetted and given short-term work permits.

It is my job to keep working on this and other issues in a bipartisan manner, and to try to find solutions that affect us all. I will continue to do that, even in the face of obstructionists who prefer politics over people. It is critical that every American hold their member of Congress to a standard that demands bipartisan compromise and real problem-solving.

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