EDITORIAL: The immigration quandary isn’t Trump’s wall — it’s Trump and American jobs

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The crisis in Washington and much of the United States isn’t President Trump’s ludicrous wall, it’s Trump himself and the nation’s unsolved immigration problem.

Only the foolish, the ignorant and politically corrupt stand behind Trump’s absurd claim that a wall, a fence — or whatever he wants to call hundreds of billions of dollars of useless barrier — is a solution to our immigration problem.

Trump is the most immediate problem. A self-destructive U.S. immigration policy is the crux of the issue. Trump’s wall is simply a dangerous distraction from both issues.

American voters in November wisely changed the dynamics in the House, empowering Democrats to put a stop to an enveloping crisis created by Republican partisan recklessness. No right-minded lawmaker can defend a president who operates in a delusional authoritarian world, delivering proven lies and deception daily. For any politician of any party to defend, embrace or ignore Trump’s outright incompetence on this and other issues is exceedingly dangerous.

Shortsighted Republicans who think they might end their political careers by opposing Trump’s lunacy are mistaken. Truth, ultimately voters, and finally history, will resolve this crisis, just as it has past crises such as McCarthyism and Watergate.

Republicans and Democrats should work together to contain the danger in the White House until impeachment or voters invoke a permanent solution.

And they should immediately work together to finally solve this problem, of which illegal immigration is but a symptom: jobs. Endless U.S. industries and businesses depend on the cheap and plentiful labor that illegal immigrants provide. Until that issue is addressed, nothing will change.

For decades, the problem of illegal immigration has been primarily about jobs, and Trump’s forays into the morass ignores that. Despite all the heated rhetoric and emotional arguments targeting both sides of this thorny issue, there is a growing cadre of inconvenient facts we’ve highlighted before:

• There are an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, and their stories and circumstances are astoundingly varied. Officials estimate greater Aurora is home to about 130,000 illegal immigrants.

• Many of these immigrants are settled and integrated into our communities. They have jobs. They own cars and homes. They make more than $60 billion a year from U.S. businesses. They have children in schools. They spend money in the community.

• Business groups and more than a few industries haven’t been shy in making it clear that these immigrants are critical to their operations. If they leave, who will fill their jobs? Many metro businesses can’t find employees even with illegal immigrants filling the work force. Removing these people from the workforce would be disastrous to the U.S. economy.

• Deporting illegal immigrants is far from a simple matter. Many families consist of citizens and non-citizens, many with varying degrees of legality. If the father of a family of six is deported, why force his American wife and perhaps three-of-six documented children to live here in anguished poverty and on the government dole, if they don’t leave the country with him? Tearing apart families will only lead to tragedy and increased government expense.

• The cost of rounding up, collecting from jails, housing, processing and deporting millions of immigrants would be astronomical. Even proponents admit that. The federal government has tried valiantly to boost its border control and ICE force before, only to find out how difficult, ineffective and expensive it is.

• The vast majority of illegal immigrants have come here legally as visitors.

The so-called Senate Gang of Eight and others have come close to enacting comprehensive immigration reform that addresses the causes of illegal immigration, not the symptoms. Colorado’s own Sen. Michael Bennet was part of that bi-partisan group that offered a reasoned and rational way forward.

The nation needs a system that heavily penalizes businesses that employee undocumented workers. It must be a system that allows immigrants to work here legally without having to be citizens. It must be a program that allows a path to citizenship for those who play by rules that make sense.

The answer isn’t a wall, it’s employment.

The only answer is comprehensive immigration reform that continues America’s lauded policy of open arms. It’s a policy that made it possible for almost everyone in the country to call it home, other than the Native Americans who lived here before anyone else.

But first, Congress must stand firm against the Trump administration’s misguided demands to waste money on a wall and distract Congress from the only solution of comprehensive immigration reform.