By Chris Gavaler

Gavaler is one of the founders of Rockbridge Civil Discourse. He submitted this on behalf of the group, whose members are listed below.

Rockbridge Civil Discourse is a diverse group of Republicans, Democrats, and independents from across the ideological spectrum. Though our political instincts differ, our commitment to our country and to forging common ground does not. We believe polarization is one of the greatest threats to the U.S. To battle it, we offer a bipartisan approach to the difficult issue of immigration.

We insist that our members of Congress:

1. Stop divisive, partisan rhetoric. While vilification of political opponents may be effective at the voting booth, it prevents the compromises needed to solve our biggest challenges. Acknowledge that only a combined, bipartisan approach can effectively address our immigration and other critical national needs.

2. Acknowledge the humanitarian and security crisis at the border. Often members of each party focus on one aspect of the challenge and ignore the other. Both must be addressed together.

3. Support additional funding for immigration court judges and the Department of Homeland Security. We hope this will soon be accomplished.

4. Treat people who have entered the U.S. illegally and legal asylum seekers humanely and with dignity. Minors will not be separated from their parents.

5. Support additional funding for border security, including physical barriers. Acknowledge that ideally there should be no illegal immigration.

6. Support a path to citizenship for minors who entered the U.S. illegally without their parents and a path to citizenship for minors and their parents who verifiably entered together.

7. Negotiate a law for adults who entered the U.S. illegally that includes deportation and a path to citizenship as possible outcomes.

8. Investigate laws regarding the employment of immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally and either better enforce them or replace them with more effective legislation.

9. Acknowledge the legitimacy of asylum seeking while also limiting loopholes.

10. Support the partnership with Mexico to manage the flow of migrants and through diplomatic measures, assist them with humane living conditions that include adequate health care and education.

11. Pass the USMCA treaty to replace NAFTA as soon as possible.

12. Identify and address the institutional, financial, and humanitarian causes of the migration from Central America and other parts of the world.

We realize compromise is difficult, but it is the only viable path forward.

We are heartened that the Senate has passed supplemental funding for Homeland Security and immigration judges, and we thank both Republicans and Democrats for not including any deal-breaking measures.

We insist our members of Congress — Sens. Warner and Kaine and Representative Cline — build on this success and provide the bipartisanship leadership our country desperately needs.


James Kostelni

Chris Gavaler

Atin Basu

Mary Harvey-Halseth

Gretchen Sukow

David Toomey

Mark Reed

Helen Farrar

Chris Williams

Christi Crittenden

Leslie Giles

James Cook

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