Editor’s Note: Larry Hogan was inaugurated for a second term as governor of Maryland last month as only the second Republican to be reelected in the state’s history. He serves as vice-chairman of the National Governor’s Association. Watch him Monday evening on “Erin Burnett Out Front” on CNN at 7 p.m. ET. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own; view more opinion at CNN
This week, our leaders in Washington will once again debate government funding and border security. Sadly, Americans can expect that this week’s debate will again be laced with exaggerated rhetoric concocted to gratify partisans on both sides of the aisle. As we go into another week of Washington infighting and finger-pointing, I would like to offer a dose of reality for both sides.
President Trump: Let’s be honest, neither Mexico nor “Chuck and Nancy” are going to pay for the wall from sea to shining sea that you promised during your campaign.
Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi: Our nation cannot have open borders. Given your past support for border security funding that included physical barriers under previous administrations, your current “outrage” seems disingenuous at best.
It is not true, as the Trump administration would have us believe, that our border is in an unprecedented state of chaos and crisis. Data from US Customs and Border Protection show that border crossings have been declining for more than a decade.
Nor is it true that the only challenge on our southern border is posed to the families and children that are crossing. There are humanitarian issues that need to be addressed, but there really are violent gang enterprises engaged in human trafficking, drug smuggling, and acts of violence which pose the greatest risk to the immigrants themselves.
It is fair to criticize Sen. Schumer and other leading Democrats for flip-flopping on border security because they don’t like the current occupant of the White House. Perhaps grandstanding to their increasingly “progressive” base is blinding them to the opportunity to make real, bipartisan progress.
Republican leaders are doing the same thing, firing up their base with inflammatory language. It’s also a fair criticism to say that Republicans could have gotten this done in the past two years, when they controlled all branches of government. It’s unclear precisely what they’ve been doing all this time.
But let’s move beyond the rhetoric and take a good, strong dose of the truth: We do need the $5.7 billion – and likely much more – to help us to secure our border. The need for increased border security has been the subject of bipartisan agreement time and time again, under both the Bush and Obama administrations.
Once the funding is approved, let’s ensure that the security experts, not the politicians, decide how best to secure the different sections of our border, which vary greatly in terms of terrain, existing resources, and unique challenges and risks.
Madam speaker, in some places that will mean a physical structure, and Mr. President, in some areas a wall makes zero sense.
As part of this agreement, let’s provide a permanent fix for the young immigrants in the DACA program – let’s create a pathway to citizenship so they can live and thrive in the only home they have ever known.
A Gallup poll released last week shows that 81% of Americans favor giving immigrants living in the US illegally the chance to become citizens if they meet certain requirements over a period of time. And multiple polls show that over 75% of Republicans support allowing children brought to the US illegally to stay in this country. Fixing DACA is a bipartisan, commonsense measure that is simply the right thing to do.
If you are thinking you’ve heard this all before, you’d be right. Versions of this solution have been proffered by both Democrats and Republicans for months, even years. So it shouldn’t be so hard to get done.
Is this the comprehensive immigration reform that our nation has needed for decades? No – but as with all policy challenges that require courage and compromise, we have got to start somewhere. We cannot let the lack of political courage to achieve big things prevent us from making real incremental progress.
We simply cannot allow another shutdown which not only puts hundreds of thousand of American workers – nearly 200,000 of whom are located in my state of Maryland – through financial hardship, but also threatens the very national security that we claim to be debating. During the recent shutdown, while the politicians in Washington argued about the security of our southern border, hardworking men and women responsible for our security all over the nation weren’t being paid at the Department of Homeland Security, the Coast Guard, and other critical security agencies.
Most Americans are frankly fed up with the dysfunction in Washington and a government that can’t seem to even keep the lights on, much less achieve real solutions to our serious problems. They’re also sick and tired of all the divisive and angry rhetoric on both sides of the aisle. This week, however, we have an all-too-rare opportunity for a common sense solution and a bipartisan victory – which is what most of America desperately wants.
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It is time to put the politics aside. Stop trying to score political points. No more digging in just to deny the other side a win. Each side must be willing to give up a little – so that the American people can gain a lot. Let’s find that common ground where we can all stand together.
Friday is the deadline – please just do your jobs and get it done.