One week after the Hermiston City Council signed a letter asking federal lawmakers to work to create “fair and sensible” immigration reform, one such lawmaker just happened to be in town to personally accept a copy of the letter.
Mayor Dave Drotzmann and Eddie de la Cruz, chairman of the city’s Hispanic Advisory Committee, presented the letter to Sen. Ron Wyden during the senator’s town hall meeting in Hermiston on Feb. 18.
Wyden said Hermiston was taking the lead on the issue of immigration reform. “I’m very hopeful this will be a model for other communities to step forward,” said Wyden.
Later during the town hall meeting held at the Stafford Hansell Government Center, Wyden said reform is badly needed.
“Our immigration system is dysfunctional,” he said. “Eddie (de la Cruz) and the mayor are doing their part on the issue. Wyden said immigration reform needs to address three major areas.
“It starts with border security,” he said. “If you don’t secure your borders, you’re nowhere.”
Secondly, the United States needs to enforce the laws that are currently on the books.
“If employers try to hire someone illegally, there has to be consequences,” said Wyden.
And third, the U.S. has to figure out what to do with the 11 million people already in the country who are undocumented. Wyden said a system has to be in place to allow undocumented individuals to earn citizenship without leaving the country.
“If they come forward voluntarily and pay back taxes, show they’ve learned English, they should be able to go to the back of the line and gain citizenship,” he said. America, he said, benefits from immigrants.
“Our country is better because of legal immigration,” said Wyden.