Immigration reform: Why Laura Ingraham has done a disservice to conservatives and our nation

When I retired from business about five years ago, I had a sincere calling to try to help my community, and I still had the energy to be active in that pursuit. I live in the San Fernando Valley, a suburb of Los Angeles. The fact is that my community of over 1 million residents is over 60 percent Hispanic. Further, I was acutely aware that our community was in crisis. Far too many of our residents were undocumented. Families were getting split apart literally every day. I discovered that my calling was to try to find a solution to this crisis for my friends and neighbors. I have tried to be a voice for those in my community that have no voice.

I have been working for years to help broker a legislative solution that would truly end the scourge of future illegal immigration. I have been advocating for a conservative solution which would secure our borders, secure our worksites, allow for a free-market system to determine how many immigrants would be allowed to legally enter our workforce, and ultimately allow for a process by which the undocumented population could earn the right to stay legally in America if they had a clean criminal record and were willing to pay fines, jump through several hoops, and learn English to get right with the law. Unfortunately, the work of so many of my dedicated fellow advocates, as well as my own work in advocacy, has been for naught. Our nation's political gridlock has seen to it that the status quo has won, and this most important legislative effort on behalf of our nation's immigrants, business community, faith community and law enforcement community has lost.

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This loss represents a missed opportunity to heal a very broken part of our nation. It also represents a missed opportunity for my fellow conservatives to heal their very broken relationship with our Hispanic and Asian brothers and sisters. In fact, by neglecting to do their part toward fixing our immigration system, they have made a difficult relationship much, much worse. As my good friend Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention once said about this issue, "The Republicans have painted themselves into a corner, and having surveyed the damage, decided to apply a second coat."

To be fair, there is plenty of blame to go around on both sides of the aisle. I myself have been extremely critical of the president for breaking his promise by not moving immigration reform when he controlled both houses of Congress in 2009 and 2010. However, in all candor, the fault for our current stalemate lies almost exclusively with the Republicans in the House for failing to act in 2013 or 2014.

In particular, one aspect of the failure to move forward by Republicans is in my craw. It has been gnawing at me, and I want to explore this issue in some detail here. Media personality Laura Ingraham has done our nation, and in particular the conservative movement, irreparable harm. While I often find myself in agreement with her on many issues of the day, on immigration she simply could not be more wrong. Let me explain.

For some misguided reason, Ingraham has aligned herself in partnership with F.A.I.R. (the Federation for American Immigration Reform). F.A.I.R. is in many ways a progressive pro-abortion and population control organization. This population control group was founded by Planned Parenthood leaders, and has been run by them for decades. This group not only advocates for a smaller American population through, among other measures, abortion on demand, but F.A.I.R. is bent on deporting not only the 11 million undocumented population, but their families as well.

Putting aside the questionable moral implications of this extreme ideology, doesn't Ingraham understand that her stated policy of massive deportation will all but ruin our economy? On "The O'Reilly Factor" earlier this month, Ingraham said, "the first thing you do is start deporting people, not by the hundreds, not by the dozens, by the thousands. That means entire families, not just the father or mother, but we keep families unified by deporting all people who are here illegally." In other words, Ingraham is pushing America to not only deport the undocumented, but also their 5 million citizen children, as well as several million citizen and legal resident spouses that comprise the millions of mixed status families that are caught up in this crisis. She supports the retraction of our population by over 20 million people — all of them consumers and/or employees.

Does Ingraham understand that by advocating for the mass deportation of this community, it would destabilize and retract our economy, at a time when we have huge deficits? We can't tax our way out of this deficit problem — especially with a severely smaller economy — what is she thinking? Does she think that we can cut our way out of this deficit, again with a smaller revenue base? Doesn't she believe in capitalism? Doesn't she believe in the free market? Doesn't she realize that the solution to our deficits on both revenue and trade lies in the free-market capitalistic economy? We can't tax or cut our way out of our difficulties; we must grow our way out of this economic mess. How can we grow our economy when Ingraham and her population control allies want to cut our population by 20 million people — and these immigrants are dollar for dollar among the most productive members of our workforce!

By lending her voice to the most extreme and misguided fringes of society that are advocating for a smaller America, she is advocating for weakness where strength is required. She is advocating for divisiveness where our entire nation should be working together to bring prosperity and growth back to our economy. She is proposing a nightmare for 20 million God-loving people whose greatest desire is to pursue the American Dream. As America now deals with a crisis of migrant children on our southern border, our nation must have a serious and grown-up conversation as to how exactly we must reform our broken immigration system and solve the problems that everyone realizes are part and parcel of our dysfunction on this issue. Ingraham and F.A.I.R. are advocating positions that simply shut down any dialogue, and are an extreme impediment to our working to find solutions to this problem.

Ingraham makes a show of wearing a cross around her neck. However, I would suggest to her that she should wear her belief in the Lord on her sleeve. She should pray to the Lord for His wisdom — and she should join with her Roman Catholic Church, as well as literally every faith community in America — from the evangelical community to the Jewish community to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — to advocate for a just and conservative solution to our nation's immigration crisis. Shame on Laura Ingraham. I will pray that Ingraham finds love and compassion in her heart, and gains the wisdom needed to promote a faith-inspired solution to the crisis that she is greatly responsible for exacerbating. More important, I pray that the politicians in Washington find the courage of their convictions, disavow Laura Ingraham and her shrill allies, and work across the aisle to solve the very real problem of our completely dysfunctional immigration system.

Gittelson is vice president for governmental affairs of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.