STATE — New Jersey Republican Rep. Leonard Lance spotted a body floating in the Rio Grande during his three-day tour of the U.S. border with Mexico, where he and five other GOP lawmakers posed for pictures at stop after stop, and called for more guns, guards, drones and other efforts to stop illegal immigration.
While Lance’s sighting made for news coverage, the policies he and his ilk advocate have been uniformly condemned at home in New Jersey as well as by some border area law enforcement officials.
Police Chief Victor Rodriguez has served as the top cop in McAllen for more than a decade, and he previously led police departments in two other Texas border towns, but the Republican congressional delegation that visited his town met with rural county sheriffs and Border Patrol officers, not him.
Rodriguez favors granting more U.S. work visas for foreigners, doing more to crack down on illegal drugs, tracking and freezing cartel bank accounts, and chasing stolen goods and fugitives heading south into Mexico so he bristles when he hears Republican rhetoric about insecurity on the Texas border.
Pizza shop owners from Westfield, Garwood and Cranford called on Lance to reform a priority his legislative agenda by replacing outdated immigration laws with economy-boosting measures, including a path to citizenship.
“America is the land of opportunity, there is no country in the world like it,” said Dario Fernandez, owner of Rudy’s Ristorante & Pizzeria in Garwood, who arrived here from civil war torn San Salvador thirty years ago. “Congress should pass immigration reform so everyone can have the same opportunities I’ve had — to work, start businesses, create jobs, and grow the economy.”
Republican proposals Lance supports “will not solve our immigration problems or help small businesses — they will only further complicate this situation and make it harder for small businesses, and especially restaurants, to hire qualified, authorized workers,” said Corinne Horowitz, the Main Street Alliance organizer who gathered restaurant owners for an Aug. 20 press conference at il Giardino Pizza in Cranford.
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