Alberto Gonzales: Immigration Solution Requires Compromise

Last week, President Obama announced that undocumented immigrants brought to America as children and who meet certain qualifications will be eligible to apply for a two-year work permit and avoid deportation.

Whether you agree with the President’s decision or not, the order has reinvigorated the debate over immigration.

Combined with the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision on the constitutionality of Arizona S. B. 1070, momentum may be building toward a serious dialogue on comprehensive immigration reform.

I agree we should help innocent, immigrant children who know America as their only home.  They should not be punished for the sins of their parents.

Regrettably, however, the President's decision does not secure our borders or discourage employers from hiring undocumented immigrants, nor deal with VISA over-stayers or with the millions of undocumented immigrants who entered this country as adults.

For this reason, the President's actions fall far short of meeting our immigration challenges and instead, may complicate matters by relieving pressure to find a comprehensive solution.

By choosing now to suspend deportations through executive order, when he previously announced to a Hispanic audience he had no authority to do so, the President appears to have made a political calculation here to win Hispanic votes.

While some may argue there is never a wrong time to do the right thing, those children deported during the last three years because of the President's failure to use authority he now claims to have will undoubtedly argue that the President did indeed choose the wrong time to do the right thing.

Federal prosecutors have discretion under federal charging policy in making charging decisions, generally on a case-by-case basis, depending on circumstances and law enforcement priorities and resources.

I agree that precious law enforcement resources should be allocated first to deal with serious criminal wrongdoing.  However, the President's announcement that the government will fail to enforce the law for an entire class of individuals subjects him to criticism that he is ignoring the will of Congress and violating his oath of office.

Fundamentally, our immigration challenges are much too complicated to be addressed effectively through a temporary executive action that can be reversed by the next President or Congress.

These issues require the combined wisdom of the White House and the Congress.  I support a more comprehensive approach through legislation that will uphold the rule of law and complement our national security and economic policies.

How the President's announcement will influence the Hispanic vote in this fall's election will depend on Gov.Romney's response.  Many Hispanics who are law-and-order believers and who favor a more secure border are sympathetic to the plight of these innocent children.

Many will applaud the President's actions to help these children because of Congress’s failure to act.

I understand the Governor's hesitation to decline to say whether, if elected President, he would overturn President Obama's order since it may appear he, too, is responding to political pressure.

If, however, in saying the presidential order will be overtaken by events, the Governor means that he supports and will fight for comprehensive immigration reform if elected, then he should say so unequivocally…and soon.

There is division in the Republican Party over these issues and this is an opportunity for the governor to exercise leadership, guiding the Party to an understanding of the need for comprehensive immigration reform.
As a conservative and a Hispanic, and like President Ronald Reagan, I have come to terms with the realization that we must all compromise.

Not everyone will get everything they want if we are to achieve an immigration policy that is effective and consistent with our values.  President George W. Bush tried to find a solution.  The time is right to try again to find common ground.

Alberto R. Gonzales is the former United States Attorney General and the former Counsel to President George W. Bush.  He is currently the Doyle Rogers Distinguished Chair of Law at Belmont University, Of Counsel at the Nashville law firm of Waller Lansden, and a regular columnist for Fox News Latino.

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