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The Answer on Immigration

by Frank Sharry on 12/15/2008 at 11:23am

Note: Opinion piece published in Washington Times | December 14th, 2008

On Election Day, the American people hired leaders they believe will tackle and solve tough problems. They fired politicians who cover up inaction and ineffectiveness with slick sound bites and punchy slogans.

The public wants action — and results — on a range of tough issues. Of course, economic recovery is job number one, but the public demand for action on illegal immigration has been underestimated for too long.

Both presidential candidates got it. They promised action on immigration reform in their first year. Moreover, when the Obama campaign quietly put together transition teams on seven priority policy areas to begin work months before Election Day, immigration reform made the cut.

Why is illegal immigration now a top-tier policy concern? Is it anger at the illegal immigrants? No. In a recent poll conducted by Sergio Bendixen for NDN only 3 percent of voters blame them. Employers who game the system? Yes, nearly a quarter of voters blame employers, many of whom are seen as unscrupulous actors who underpay workers and skip out on taxes. But by a 2-1 margin the public blames the federal government and Congress. Failure to solve illegal immigration is now a symbol of how Washington doesn’t work.

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