Immigration reform, gridlock discussed with congressional candidates

This is the final installment of a three-part series on questions our Chamber of Maui Political Committee asked of candidates in races for the U.S. Senate and U.S. House 2nd District. Immigration reform and gridlock in Washington, D.C., are the subjects covered in this article.

Immigration Reform

The question was: Where do you stand on immigration reform?

Responses included:

* Supports open borders, noting that when people drive across state lines no one is checking for terrorists. Candidate said we should allow people in with a terrorism check and waiver of any welfare rights.

* All for legal immigration. Candidate said we should secure the borders! Sick and tired of the issue because it is totally possible to secure the borders. Supports a double-fence system and an eVerrify system for guarding against terrorists.

* Mexico is one of the biggest trade partners of the U.S. and we should work with our friend and partners. Instead, should get rid of visa programs for countries that hate us. There are many from Mexico in Hawaii who are working but have been illegal for 20 years. We need to help them become legal citizens. As a side note, this candidate also pointed out that this is the country that built the Hoover Dam; we can certainly secure our borders.

* Supports immigration reform but says the bigger issue is the Drug War as cartels are making it where the people of Mexico don’t want to live there. If we put an end to the Drug War, then we will see a drop in immigration. The burdens of the Drug War are too great to manage and it must stop.

* Responsible immigration is one of the greatest strengths of our state and nation. Plan is to 1. Secure our borders; 2. Create an orderly system for allowing people in (versus being flooded), checking against terrorism; 3. Obtain appropriate documentation so they can legally work; 4. Have a system for welcoming them as immigrations ensures our strength versus harming us.

* We need to do three things: 1. Bring undocumented individuals into compliance and have them paying taxes; 2. Have a “high skilled” visa program to attract and train highly skilled individuals to work in this county; 3. Allow for family immigration as studies show people do better when families are united.

Gridlock in Washington

The question was: What solutions do you have to address the gridlock that continues to happen in Washington?

With this question, the responses came in at very different ends of the spectrum. They included:

* Many complain about gridlock. Not sure cooperation across the aisles is helpful because that can lead to more bad laws. Supports coalitions to help get the right things done, focusing on ideas and not parties.

* This candidate is sick of “compromise” and said it is time for people to stand up for what they believe in and not back down. There is a war between liberalism (big government and overspending) and conservatism (fiscal responsibility) and we need more conservatism.

* This candidate contacted many government offices in Washington to discuss issues and heard that they “can’t speak to anyone” about issues. She said it is time to “start over” and “clean house.”

* Hawaii is known as a place where people get along and we can help break gridlock. This was followed by comments on laws regarding gun control and abortion, which are two subjects not asked about and therefore not covered here.

* This candidate does not think in terms of party, thinks instead in terms of Hawaii and people and is there to serve the people. Recognizes that it cannot be done alone and requires people of different skill sets to come up with solid solutions.

* With respect to gridlock, this candidate believes in “watering the flowers where they are growing,” focusing on efforts that are more likely to work and finding opportunities to collaborate on them.

So why are we sharing these responses and why are we involved at the federal level?

Many businesses are concerned about the growing size of government and national debt.

They see government doing things that would be illegal for businesses to do, but it gets away with it. They feel government is out of touch with economic realities and those that businesses face.

It is for these reasons that we increased our federal advocacy efforts and endorse congressional candidates. We share this information with you to give you a sense of the responses heard so you can consider the ideas as well.

To learn more about whom COMPAC endorsed, please visit www.mauichamber.com.

* Pamela Tumpap is president of the Maui Chamber of Commerce.