Former U.S. attorney general Gonzales to speak on immigration reform proposal

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America is known as the land of opportunity, but the land of the free doesn’t usually come free to many.

Alberto Gonzales, 80th U.S. attorney general and first Latino to hold the position, will give the morning lecture at 10:45 a.m. today in the Amphitheater on the problems of immigration for America and a new alternative policy he’s proposed.

To Gonzales, his time as attorney general proved to be a good experience, and he now serves the dean and distinguished law professor at Belmont University. While serving as attorney general, Gonzales said he faced many issues on immigration. During President George W. Bush’s second term, Gonzales said, the administration focused on immigration but could not make much progress during that time with a divided Congress.

“Obviously, given the fact I’m from a border state, and [was] the Secretary of State of Texas, I’ve dealt with border issues with Mexico,” he said. “This is something I’ve been dealing with and familiar with for many, many years. I’ve dealt with it as attorney general, and I am still very interested in this issue.”

In a collaboration with David Strange, a Texan lawyer, Gonzales wrote the book, A Conservative and Compassionate Approach to Immigration Reform. In it, Gonzales and Strange posit the current national immigration policy as inadequate.

The book’s proposals — focused on reforming the federal immigration laws, including common-sense border control, tougher workplace enforcement, and a revised visa process — could make a big difference in immigration.

For the most part, Gonzales said, he’s gotten positive feedback. But there have been big criticisms as well.

“There’s something for everyone to hate in the book because everyone who has an equity in this discussion is going to have to give up something,” Gonzales said. “This is going to require some serious compromise by everyone. No one’s going to get everything they want, and that’s just the way it is.”

However, Gonzales said, nothing can be done by the president alone, referring to President Barack Obama’s executive order action in 2014 that superseded Congress. The action Obama took, offering temporary legal status to millions of illegal immigrants and indefinite amnesty from deportation, Gonzales said, made matters worse. Republicans became more upset and less willing to work with the president. However, a Republican president, he said, would probably have an easier time getting legislation through Congress.

Gonzales said he hopes a sound reform policy for immigration can come soon — in fact,  as soon as the next administration. Understanding the complexities of the issues, he said he knows it could take many small bills or as a large bill but it must be done soon.

“It may take some time, but I’m not sure our country can wait another decade before we actually can get some kind of legislation,” Gonzales said.