· As a Foreign Service Officer, I have a unique perspective on immigration, as all new diplomats begin their careers with at least some time in the visa unit of a U.S. embassy or consulate. I may be one of the only political candidates you’ll meet who actually has conducted visa interviews and issued both tourist and immigrant visas.
· I have literally interviewed thousands of visa applicants and made the determination to approve or refuse their applications. I know the law that governs those determinations, and I have a good understanding of the life circumstances of those applying.
· I believe in the historic and ongoing value of immigration to the U.S., but I firmly believe that immigration must be legal and organized. As important of a symbol that the Statue of Liberty is to American society, so is the symbol next to it, Ellis Island.
· While the Statue of Liberty symbolizes the beacon to come, Ellis Island symbolizes the order and care we developed to handle large-scale immigration. Not only were Ellis Island's facilities important to document those coming to our shores, officials also strove to treat the medical ailments of those arriving and protect Americans from imported diseases. There is nothing racist, cruel or unwelcoming about demanding that immigration be legal and documented. I have served in and traveled to many countries during my 20 years as a diplomat, and have always passed through some sort of passport or immigration control upon arrival. It is standard practice worldwide.
· We can have honest debates regarding immigration numbers and qualifications, and should bring to those debates data about the employment needs of our country, the best analyses of impacts to wages, and any other pertinent considerations. Those debates should never include xenophobic or racist attitudes towards immigration, but neither should immigration be viewed solely through the prism of empathy for the conditions in sending countries.
· We cannot and should not take in every person in the world who lives in unfortunate economic circumstances. We have foreign aid to address that aspect, and I am a firm proponent of well-structured foreign aid. Asylum and humanitarian grounds for immigration have and always should be a part of our immigration policies, but we need to be realistic in reviewing the cases of those claiming grounds for asylum status. As asylum hearings find, the majority of claims in recent years do not meet asylum standards and have been denied. These individuals are economic migrants and we have avenues to improve their circumstances in their home countries.
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