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Former Grassley Chief of Staff: Immigration Reform, Citizenship Needed

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In a conversation this week with Des Moines Register editors and reporters, Republican Congressional candidate David Young demonstrated that he at least understands compassionate conservatism, by speaking about how we need immigration reform with a path to citizenship.

Young is running for Congress in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional district, one district over from the CD that the famously anti-immigrant Rep. Steve King represents.  Moreover, Young is former chief of staff to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who has been far from a friend to immigrants and has embodied many of the GOP excesses on opposing immigration.

Young, however, says he is open to allowing immigrants to remain in the US on a guest worker program that could eventually lead to a path to citizenship:

“I would allow them to be guest workers — all who want to be,” without immediate full rights of citizenship, Young told Des Moines Register editors and reporters on Wednesday. He added he would let all undocumented persons apply for the program, provided they don’t have a felony record or another barrier to preclude participation…

No, I am not one who wants to round up and deport people; that is not me, and that is not our country,” he added…

A pathway to citizenship is eventually going to come, Young said.

Unlike some candidates running these days, Young isn’t demagoguing about the border:

Regarding border security, Young noted that an immigration reform bill approved by the U.S. Senate would give the power of certifying border security to the Department of Homeland Security without providing any metrics or direction to decide how the border should be secured.

“I think that is important. I don’t trust any administration — Republican or Democrat — just to have one person making that decision. I think Congress needs to have skin in this game. Every one of them needs to go down to the border. I want to go down to the border. I want to talk with the governors. I want to talk with the Border Control.” Members of Congress need to vote on the issue of certifying border security, both to satisfy themselves and their constituents, he added.

And he can speak compassionately about immigrants:

Young also said he particularly believes there must be a recognition that immigration has a human face and some compassion is needed. “Why are people coming here? Despite our challenges, we are the greatest nation in the world. And for the most part, I believe….that people are coming here because they want to do better for their lives, and their families, and this is a place of freedom and opportunity,” he said.

Of course, other Republicans have said the right things about immigration before, while not lifting a finger to actually pass legislation.  If elected to Congress, Young will need to prove that he can put his money where his mouth is, and work toward the kind of immigration reform legislation that House GOPers this year have been too short-sighted to pass.