The Edmond Sun

Local News

April 28, 2014

Candidates wrestle with illegal immigration policy

OKLA. CITY — A recent debate by U.S. Senate hopefuls explored if Republicans hope to win the presidency in the next decade if the government fails to limit the number of illegal immigrants making their way into the United States.

Republican candidates for the open U.S. Senate seat from Oklahoma were asked what will happen to Republican chances of electing a president if a pathway to citizenship is made for more than 12 million illegal aliens.

“’We need to secure the borders and say ‘no’ to amnesty,’” former state Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon said.

Shannon was one of three Republicans participating in the debate sponsored at Olivet Baptist Church in Oklahoma City by the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee.

Shannon said he voted to support immigration reform in the state when the federal government failed to do its duty.

Elections are not won by creating government programs, said Shannon, 36, of Lawton. “The way that we win elections is explain to people that the free market system of enterprise still works,” he added.

“We tell the story that the greatest number of people that have gotten off of welfare — that have gotten away from dependency and generational poverty — came from our free market system that values work ethic,” Shannon said.

Amnesty should not be in the vocabulary of discussion when it comes to illegal immigration, said Congressman James Lankford, 46, of Edmond. Folks have told him that the U.S. needs to enforce federal laws on immigration.

“Crossing a border right now illegally is a misdemeanor,” Lankford said. “That’s the current law of the land. Should it be a misdemeanor to cross our border illegal? I don’t think so.”

The problem does not get better by continuing to ignore it, Lankford said. The 3 million illegal aliens in the U.S. during the 1980s has burgeoned to more than 12 million, he continued.

“We do have to engage in this. This is what leadership requires to be able to deal with a very difficult problem that does need to be dealt with,” Lankford said. “Start with your basic border security. Deal with it by not having amnesty.”

Legal immigrants have a different perspective on political elections than those aliens that violate U.S. law, Lankford said. Republican conservatives win when they show up to cast their ballots, he said.

Latinos have complained to Lankford that Republicans never show up at their meetings, he said. They tell him that Democrats show up to their meetings and are the only people Latinos know politically, Lankford said.

“That’s our mistake. They’re pro- life. They’re pro starting businesses, entrepreneurial. Those are Republican values,” Lankford said.

Former state Sen. Randy Brogdon of Owasso, said Washington, D.C., is the problem with illegal immigration. Politicians there do not care what is happening in Oklahoma, Texas or New Mexico, he said.

“They don’t really care that there’s an influx of illegals coming,” Brogdon said. “It’s not fixed because they don’t want it fixed.”

Republicans have their reasons for wanting cheap labor and Democrats have their reasons for wanting free votes, Brogdon said.

“Lets just close the borders until they are secure. Lets stop the influx,” Brogdon said. “We have to get rid of this dangerous lottery system to bring people over into this country.”

The benefits of 50,000 people a year entering American soil is not known, Brogdon said.

“When we do have legal immigrants — track their visas — put a chip in it,” Brogdon said. “If we can fly drones over to check on American citizens, surely we can track illegal aliens.”

Other Republican U.S. Senate candidates for the unexpired term include Jason Weger, 31, of Norman; Kevin Crow, 46, of Chickasha; Eric McCray, 33, of Tulsa; and Andy Craig, 41, of Broken Arrow.

One Independent candidate, Mark Beard, 54, of Oklahoma City is also running for the Senate seat.

The three Democrats contenders for U.S. Senate include state Sen. Connie Johnson, 61, of Oklahoma City; Patrick Hayes, 39, of Anadarko; and Jim Rogers, 79, of Midwest City.

Voters will nominate their party’s candidates on June 24 for the statewide primary election. A run-off primary election is set for Aug. 26. The general election is scheduled for Nov. 4.

jcoburn@edmondsun.com | 341-2121

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