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Come to the table, Democrats

For those of us who call the Upper Peninsula and northern Michigan home, the discussion around border security is often different than what we see on the nightly news. The challenges for U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Agents and other federal, state and local law enforcement in the Soo vary greatly from those of their southern border counterparts. The commonality is we share the same goal: the safety and security of our citizens.

As the national debate rages on, we must remember that our nation is a welcoming nation and built by immigrants. I know firsthand — my grandparents immigrated from Sweden to the Upper Peninsula to start a new life.

Though, equally as true as the aforementioned: We are a nation of borders, as well as law and order. But our immigration system is broken — and to argue otherwise would be dishonest. From an ineffective visa system to porous borders, decades of disinterest, lazy legislation, and bureaucratic opposition have encouraged bad actors to take advantage of our current system. It’s not fair to put the needs of our citizens or of those who come here legally below those who enter illegally.

President Donald Trump is right to call this a crisis, and we have a unique opportunity right now to address these issues head on. Fixing our immigration system starts first and foremost with secure borders. Without that, everything else falls apart. While most are hoping to enter our country for a good reason, we can’t turn a blind eye to the facts. Over the past two years, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has arrested close to 300,000 criminal illegal immigrants in our country — 3,900 on murder charges, 27,000 on sex-related charges, 99,000 on assault-related charges, and over 160,000 on criminal traffic charges, such as driving under the influence.

Congress has the constitutional duty and obligation to provide for the safety and security of our citizens, and it’s time we put aside partisan games and secure our borders. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol have identified the need for 234 miles of physical barrier (read: wall) on our southern border.

Yet, Nancy Pelosi and many other “leaders” have radically dismissed the notion of walls being a necessary part of securing a border.

This is not campaign rhetoric or pandering for votes. This is a crisis of our own making. We are in the longest — and most avoidable — government shutdown in U.S. history. Those most vital to protecting our borders, coasts, and ports have now missed at least one paycheck, with little to no progress being made in Washington.

It’s time to end this shutdown, secure our borders, and get our government open and working for the people.

Come to the table Democrats.

U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Watersmeet, represents Michigan’s 1st Congressional District, covering the northern Lower Peninsula and all of the Upper Peninsula.