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Repairing immigration system starts with open conversation, collaboration, Cortez Masto says

Updated April 17, 2017 - 11:56 pm

Fixing a broken immigration system does not start with a border wall with Mexico, U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto said Monday night. It starts with open conversation and collaborating toward solutions.

Cortez Masto, D-Nev., sent this message during an “Immigration Civic Academy” held by Nevadans for Common Good at All Saints Episcopal Church in Las Vegas. Cortez Masto cited figures that showed the number of undocumented immigrants entering the United States from the Mexican border has decreased in the past five years.

Why then, she said, does President Donald Trump want to spend billions on building a wall?

“I’m not sure I quite understand that,” she said.

Cortez Masto said she supports comprehensive immigration reform that addresses undocumented immigrants already in the country and helps secure the borders. She pointed to the bipartisan effort in the U.S. Senate to protect undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children as a good starting place for more discussion.

Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., are sponsoring the Bridge Act, which would help protect the children. Cortez Masto said she has signed on to support the legislation.

“When we really want to solve a problem and we want to have a solution, this is how it starts. I am proud to know this is happening in my hometown, here in Las Vegas,” she said.

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., has also called for bipartisan solutions to the immigration issue. Heller has said he supports increased vetting and border protections but has denounced Trump’s immigration ban, calling it a “religious ban” and an overreach of power by the president.

Immigration is one of the most complex issues Nevadans for Common Good, an organization of 40 nonprofit groups and religious institutions, has tried to tackle, organizer Matt Estes said. The event included a history of immigration in the United States and a quick glimpse of immigration now.

“It’s really important that we get some of this information out because there’s a lot of myths and a lot of stories,” he said.

Monday only “touched the tip of the iceberg,” said Jeanne Ward-Estes, another organizer.

“These issues are large and complex and really (do) affect us all,” she said. “We need to have an immigration system that is realistic in what it’s trying to do, and most importantly, also compassionate.”

Contact mdelaney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0281. Follow @MeghinDelaney on Twitter.

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