Congressional Candidates Talk Immigration

The Independent recently spoke to both candidates running for House of Representatives in the First Congressional District. The incumbent is two-term Republican Lee Zeldin. His Democratic challenger is Perry Gershon. We will continue to offer snapshots of their views until Election Day, November 6. This week, a brief look at their
positions on immigration.

“Immigration policy today is highly, highly, flawed,” Perry Gershon said. “It’s resulting in horrible treatment of people at the border, and the separation of families with appalling consequences.”

The United States’ policy of separating children from the adults accompanying them and attempting to enter the country was implemented by the administration of President Trump in April of this year, and discontinued in June after a national firestorm of protest against it. “It’s not good policy to separate children at our border from their parents and release them into the United States as unaccompanied alien children,” Zeldin said.

Both men spoke about the future for “Dreamers,” young people brought into the country as children who have since grown up here. “Dreamers, people who came to this country as children and have done nothing wrong, who have served our country, and have been promised a path to citizenship, are seeing that taken away or potentially taken away,” said Gershon. “And even the suggestion that they be deported somewhere, when they have no home country, their only home is in America, is unfair. We need to fix it.”

“Many of these children involuntarily came to our country very young, have been here for a long time, gone through our education system, love our country, and are looking to stay here, and greatly contribute to our economy and nation’s future,” Zeldin said. “It is important that we provide them with certainty.”

“We need to have a comprehensive immigration reform that defines who can come into this country and who can’t,” said Gershon. “The Congress during the Bush years passed a comprehensive immigration reform plan, at least the Senate did, and it got through the filibuster, which is a big accomplishment. John McCain was part of the gang of eight who led this push for immigration reform. Unfortunately, the House wouldn’t pass it.” He warned that any such reform must come, at least in part, from a bipartisan political base, so as not to be dependent simply on who is in control of the White House.

“The fact is that our immigration system is broken,” Zeldin said. “We must secure the entry process into our country, and strengthen interior enforcement, including support for our hard-working Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. A nation without borders is no nation at all. Comprehensive immigration must also include the modernization of our immigration system, an end to chain migration, the visa lottery, and temporary protective status for some who enter the country.”

Zeldin also called for “stability and certainty for DACA recipients, a solution for unaccompanied alien children, and to make it easier to remove individuals who are gang members and criminals illegally in our country.”

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