The Garden City Telegram
9/5/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Reality first

Garden City sets example in call for sensible reform.

Immigration reform has become one of the more politically divisive issues of our day.

So even in a community that has long depended on the contributions of immigrants — those here legally and otherwise — it wasn't a surprise to hear a mix of opinions from members of the Garden City Commission.

At issue during Tuesday's meeting was whether Mayor Dan Fankhauser should join Kansas mayors who signed a letter urging the state's congressional delegation to work toward immigration reform.

Discussion also addressed a bipartisan Senate bill calling for comprehensive immigration reform, generally stepped-up border control and a path to citizenship for those here illegally — and a plan rejected by our Republican representatives in Congress.

Sen. Pat Roberts and Sen. Jerry Moran both voted against the bill that passed the Senate. U.S. House Rep. Tim Huelskamp has called such plans an intolerable offer of amnesty for undocumented immigrants.

The letter signed by more than 30 Kansas mayors doesn't endorse specific legislation, but does express frustration with the lack of progress.

During Tuesday's commission meeting, local residents who understand immigrants' contributions stepped up to encourage commissioners to approve the letter calling for sensible immigration reform.

One, Finney County Economic Development Corp. President Lona DuVall, reminded commissioners of the value of immigrant labor in meeting workforce needs. She rightly noted commissioners would send a damaging message by not signing the letter.

Opponents of comprehensive immigration reform would indeed seize the opportunity to use Garden City as an example to further their shortsighted agenda if the city chose not to approve the letter and its message.

As they discussed the Senate bill on immigration reform, commissioners understandably had questions. Illegal immigration is a complicated issue with no easy fix.

But regarding a simple call for meaningful action from Congress, commissioners in a community with a significant immigration population did the right thing by unanimously endorsing the Kansas mayors' letter — and, in doing so, demonstrated once again that when it comes to grasping issues surrounding immigration and its impact, Garden City will continue to set an example for other communities to follow.