Ohio's 14th District Congressional Debate at the City Club
On Monday, October 13th, we started our day by attending the City Club luncheon. Today was a debate between the three candidates competing for Ohio's 14th District Congressional seat who were the incumbent Congressman David Joyce (Republican), Michael Wager (Democrat), and David Macko (Libertarian). The district, itself, is quite expansive as it takes in all of Ashtabula, Lake, and Geauga counties as well as parts of Cuyahoga, Trumbell, Portage, and Summit. Today the three candidates tackled the questions of the overcrowding of prisons, protecting the Great Lakes, immigration reform, how to amend the Affordable Care Act, federal debt reduction, and gun control. Of course immigration reform was the thing that really interested us so we took the time to, as best we could, take down exactly what each one said about this topic and we did a little research on our own after we got home.
Congressman Joyce said that we are dealing with a "broken system" and that we must secure our border "no two ways about it" When asked if he meant the border between the United States and Canada, he said that Ohio was not as desperate as the southern states. He said the federal government must allow governors in southern states to call in the U.S. National Guard if necessary and possibly increase the number of border agents. He said that he spoke to a border patrol agent who told him that the border patrol and the people attempting to cross the border illegally are playing a "cat and mouse game down there," for example, the border patrol can't really do anything while the suspected illegal is still in the river and the suspected illegals are aware of this and take advantage of it.
In a October 8th "Plain Dealer" story that talked about the three candidates, reporter Robert Higgs asked about immigration reform and wrote that "Joyce did not specifically say he would support a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million foreign nationals who are in the United States illegally, but he conceded that deporting these people would be a monumental task. He said that those who are here legally should have the first crack at citizenship. Those who are here illegally should go to the back of the line."
We then went to Congressman Joyce's website and learned that he supported HR 5230 which appropriates $694 million to address the humanitarian crisis along the U.S./Mexican Border and also expedites the deportation of unaccompanied Central American children. He also supported 5272 which challenges the Department of Homeland Security's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program created by an executive order. On his website, Congressman Joyce stated that "the legislation passed tonight provides needed resources to secure our southern border while preventing President Obama from acting unilaterally to grant amnesty against the American people's wishes. It also closes the loophole that incentivized individuals to make the dangerous journey from Central America and escalated this crisis. As opposed to the President's $3.7 billion request, the $694 million in this bill is fully so that it will not intensify another crisis: our national debt. When our nation is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, we need it to act. I'm pleased members of the House stayed in Washington to work out the solution our constituents depended on us to provide."
Mr. Wager spoke with passion and said that 60,000 kids in a detention center is indeed a humanitarian crisis. He said that, of course, we need to protect our border but did not favor a wall or U.S. troops. He supports the comprehensive immigration reform package passed by the United States Senate and the Dream Act which would provide conditional permanent residency to certain immigrants who graduate from U.S. high schools, arrived in the United States as minors, and lived in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill's enactment.
In the same "Plain Dealer" article that we quoted earlier, Mr. Wager said, "I don't favor building a wall and I don't favor having a standing army on the Rio Grande." He reminded the attendees that we are all descendants of immigrants. Mr. Wager nevertheless acknowledged that Congressman Joyce's local district office has done a fine job of assisting people who have come to them for help with immigration issues which is what we have heard also.
Mr. Macko had a tendency to speak quickly so it was difficult to take down his exact words but they mirrored portions of this statement which appeared in his literature which said:
"We do not have an immigration problem. We have an invasion problem...We do not need a pathway to citizenship. We need a pathway back to Mexico. In collusion with Mexico and the banana republics of Central America, Obama has turned the Border Patrol into a babysitting and smuggling service for the young illegal aliens and the invasion has become impossible to ignore. If we do not repel and reverse this invasion, we will cease to exist as a nation. I support the renewal of President Eisenhower's successful program of 1954, Operation Wetback, which returned two million illegal aliens to their homes without violation of the Constitution. I believe that the fedgov program of unlimited immigration was designed to destroy America as a predominantly White Christian nation and to make it impossible to restore the concept of limited constitutional government. While we repel the invasion, we must protect the Constitution. Therefore, I oppose a national or "real" ID or compelling American businessmen to become unpaid government agents by reporting all new workers to any unconstitutional government employment data base. Until Operation Wetback II is complete, I support a moratorium on immigration. Then it should be restricted to no more than 1/10th of one percent of the American population per year so that immigrants can be assimilated to American principles of liberty. I favor restoration of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 to restore balance."
Mr. Macko made it clear that this is not the official libertarian party stance which he disagrees with but his own. We looked up the libertarian party position and found that while it called for tough border enforcement, it also called for more visas to be granted so that those who would come here illegally anyway would now be legal. It compared the task of stopping illegal immigration to prohibition and contained a quote from an economist named Hernando de Soto which said that, "the law must be compatible with how people actually arrange their lives."
While we were there today, we spoke with former Governor Ted Strickland who gave his best to Ms. Wong. Governor Strickland now works with the Center for American Progress and urged us to check out its website because it has a section pertaining to immigration. He said that the Center "has a whole team working on immigration issues." We did check out the website and found out that it had several excellent articles dealing with this topic.
We talked to Mayor Susan Drucker of Solon and her husband Mr. Richard Drucker. We found out that Mr. Drucker is an attorney himself who is both a good friend of and has worked with our own Scott Bratton.
As we were getting ready to be seated, we had a quick but telling conversation with Professor Robin L.B. Selinger of the Chemical Physics Interdisciplinary Program at the Liquid Crystal Institute at Kent State University. She told us that she deals with international students all of the time and has assisted them with immigration matters. Her son, Dave Selinger, is working with the Wager campaign.
Lastly, we got another point of view from Ms. Elaine Mastromatteo who ran for this Congressional seat in 2012 as the Green Party candidate. She urged us to check out the Green Party position which we did and found it to be a pretty extensive and very detailed but some of the points it made were:
***The undocumented immigrants who are already residing and working in the United States, and their families, should be granted a legal status which includes the chance to become U.S. citizens. Persons should be excluded from this process only if they present a clear and present danger to other members of our society.
***The Green Party calls for permanent border passes to all citizens of Mexico and Canada whose identity can be traced and verified.
***All persons fleeing political, racial, religious, or other types of persecution must be welcomed and given permanent resident status.
***Family reunification must be a priority in accepting applications for permanent residency.
***Permanent residency should not be denied based on political views, racial or national origin, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, disability, or any other arbitrary basis.
***We must keep faith with our commitment to the United Nations, to assist in the resettlement, including to our own country, of refugees currently stranded in refugee camps in other parts of the world.
***All those who are issued work permits must have the option to come and go from the U.S. as they desire. They must also have the option of remaining in the U.S. and becoming U.S. Citizens.
For us, attending today's debate was invaluable experience because we were exposed to all points of view on a very pressing problem.