9th Dis­trict can­di­dates of­fer dif­fer­ing views on im­mi­gra­tion re­form

The Republican Herald - - FRONT PAGE - BY KELLY MONITZ Staff Writer

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.

DENNY WOLFFdemo­crat

DAN MEUSERrepub­li­can

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