(IDAHO FALLS, ID) — As the new immigration legislation is proposed in Washington DC this week, supported by both sides of the aisle, the bill has won considerable praise and the support of Idaho Falls businessman Frank VanderSloot. The CEO of Melaleuca Wednesday shared his thoughts with like-minded support from Idaho’s business and educational leaders from around the state.
“Immigrants are an important part of this economy and they’re an important part of my business,” said VanderSloot during a conference call with over 20 business groups, chambers of commerce and trade associations. “I have met with many members of Congress and will continue to,” VanderSloot said. “People will talk to me. And I’m grateful for it. I’m grateful they listen.”
VanderSloot talked about meeting with over 17-hundred Hispanics in two separate meetings, where over 90-percent of them said they either had someone in their immediate family or extended family who was in the country without the proper paperwork.
“I think it’s time we solve this problem,” VanderSloot said. He said just building higher fences along our southern border states in not going to stop people from crossing in order to seek a better life for their families.
The proposed 844-page immigration bill does call for tough border security, with a well-funded security plan and more border fencing within a few months of its passage. A “Border Commission” would also be created and given the stewardship to apprehend ‘at least’ 90-percent of those crossing illegally into the country within 10 years.
For those close to 11-million ‘undocumented’ workers already in place in the U.S., the bill would establish a plan to assess a two-thousand dollar fine and then have them submit to a background check and fingerprints in order to be placed in a position to live here legally.
VanderSloot said he did not support this amnesty portion of the bill, allowing these estimated 11- million workers to simply jump ahead of immigrants already seeking citizenship.
The bill was proposed by the Senate Gang of Eight, four Republicans and four Democrats which include Arizona Senator John McCain and Florida’s Marco Rubio.
The House has its own bipartisan Gang of Eight, including Idaho Republican Raul Labrador.
Labrador and fellow members released a statement Wednesday saying they would propose a similar reform bill soon.
“We believe we will soon agree on a reasonable, common-sense plan to finally secure our borders and strengthen our economy with a tough but fair process that respects the rule of law so immigrants can contribute to our country,” they said.
VanderSloot said in those meetings with Hispanic immigrants, he heard many stories of incredible sacrifices made by those crossing the borders in painstaking efforts to improve the lives of their children and family members.
“They of all people appreciate what it means to be American”, he said.
“My position is we ought to secure the borders,” VanderSloot said. “But no fence will be tall enough or wide enough. There’s not enough razor wire to put on top of it or under it, because those people love their kids. They want a better life.”
On the United States Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Vandersloot has met many times in the past 4-years with the Administration and has had several one-on-one meetings with Senate and Business Leaders on the meat of the bill and his position on it. He says many Republicans have a much different opinion behind closed doors that what is being presented in public.
“I don’t think attitudes of Republicans changed one bit,” he said. “Maybe now they are gaining some courage to get behind something they’ve been behind all along but didn’t have the courage to take a stand on.”
Kevin Conlon, Euan McKirdy and Johanzynn Gatewood, CNN
Jackson Adams, Teton Valley News
Jackson Adams, Teton Valley News