9th District candidates offer differing views on immigration reform
The two candidates running for U. S. representative in the 9th Congressional District agree that immigration reform is needed, but differ on what needs to be done.
Republican nominee Dan Meuser will square off against Democrat Denny Wolff in the November General Election in the newly created district that is comprised of Carbon, Columbia, Lebanon, Montour and Schuylkill counties and parts of Berks, Luzerne and Northumberland counties.
Meuser, a Dallas business-
man who served as state secretary of revenue under Gov. Tom Corbett, supports President Donald Trump’s call to build a wall to secure the nation’s border with Mexico, but still wants the country to
welcome immigrants through legal pathways, he said.
“We’ve got to start with a strong border,” he said. “We have no idea who or what is coming across the border.”
Meuser pointed to drug trafficking and human trafficking, in which people pay all of their money to bandits for safe transport across the border only to be loaded into trucks and face death, calling it “an absolute tragedy.”
People here now should register with their status —
legal or illegal — and be given a pathway or an opportunity to obtain legal status, he said. That path could mean going back to their home country for a time and then returning
legally, Meuser said.
As for the children here under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Democrats were offered a deal to grant them legal status, but chose not to take the deal, which involved building a wall, he said. Meuser feels the Democrats only want to grant them amnesty and citizenship, which he is against.
He is also against sanctuary cities, which are protecting those here illegally. Meuser wants to defund sanctuary cities because they are breaking the law. The immigration
laws need to be followed until they’re changed, he said.
Me user is against disbanding U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency charged with enforcing immigration laws.
“We need to fortify ICE, not disband it,” he said.
Wolff, a fifth- generation farmer who served as secretary of agriculture under Gov. Ed Rendell, also believes border security needs to be strengthened, but not with building a wall, which he calls a 14th century solution to solve a 21st century problem. Towers with cameras and ground sensors would do more than a wall, and it’s a solution the Drug Enforcement Agency supports, he said.
The current visa system is not working for seasonal workers, Wolff said. The system is burdensome and not easy to navigate, and needs to be brought into the 21st century. New categories need to be created, such as the proposed H2C, which is a work visa for three years that would cut down on paperwork, he said.
Wolff believes the United States needs to find a way to bring the 11 million undocumented people in the country into the system, because deporting 11 million people is impossible and they are an important part of the economy and workforce, he said.
He suggested a registry or a list, and giving them an extended visa, or a permanent visa, making sure that they actually live here, have a clean record and are of good moral character, Wolff said. Then, require them to pay a fine, back taxes and pass a background check, he said.
“Then, we are on a pathway to bring them into the system,” Wolff said.
Citizenship is a possibility, but first put them in a registry and they can become part of the system, he said. Further steps can also be considered, he said. Undocumented workers hold important jobs in our society in agriculture, personal health care, hospitality and food processing, Wolff said.
“We need to bring them into the system,” he said.