Tedra Cobb shares vision for immigration policy
The Times spoke with two candidates for the 21st Congressional District, Democrat Tedra L. Cobb and Green Party candidate Lynn S. Kahn. The Times reached out to the campaign of incumbent U.S. Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Willsboro, repeatedly over two weeks to set up an interview on the subject, but the campaign never offered a time to speak to the congresswoman.
Ms. Cobb said she is focused on an immigration system that helps north country farmers and business while fulfilling obligations to young undocumented immigrants.
“For me, the driving issue here is what is fair,” she said. “It has become a hot button issue — and both parties have failed.”
Full title: Tedra Cobb, Lynn Kahn share their visions for immigration policy
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In this, Ms. Cobb is echoing something Ms. Stefanik has said repeatedly — over the summer, the incumbent often accused her fellow congressional representatives of “kicking the can down the road on immigration.”
Ms. Cobb made it clear she sees a difference between the southern and northern borders.
“A solution has to come from the people on the northern border and from the people on the southern border,” she said. “I don’t live on the southern border.”
This changes her perspective on some of the most controversial immigration issues, like the movement among some Democrats and left-wing activists to abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“ICE on the northern border protects us from drugs and human trafficking,” she said. “I am not a proponent of abolishing ICE; what I am in favor of is changing the policy.”
When officers overstep their boundaries, Ms. Cobb said, that is an issue concerning the individuals; when they implement programs like the unpopular family separation, that is an issue with the policy from Washington. Either way, it is not the agency that is at fault.
This is not to say that Ms. Cobb sides with hardliners on immigration.
“I’m not favor of a wall” on the southern border, she said. “I’m in favor of a bridge to Canada.”
Ms. Cobb wants cross-border travel with Canada to be easier, with some kind of favored-traveler status and better infrastructure.
“Look at Plattsburgh as a perfect example — signs are in French and English now,” Ms. Cobb said. “We want to look at economic opportunity.”
As for undocumented people already in the country, Ms. Cobb said there should be more opportunity for them to regularize their status — especially for those brought here as minors and given status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
“We need a clean DREAM Act that would create a path to citizenship without using young immigrants as a bargaining chip,” Ms. Cobb said.
She also believes in providing identification for people who are undocumented but are working in this country.
“For the people who have been living here and working here, they should have a driver’s license,” she said.
She also proposed a blue-card option — a way for undocumented immigrants who work to normalize their status — and possibly obtain a path to citizenship.
“I think it’s somewhere around 50 percent unauthorized workers” in agriculture, Ms. Cobb said. “Temporary workers can’t get here to do the work in our region.”
To solve this issue, she proposes a three- to five-year guest worker visa to help dairy farmers who need year-round, consistent help.
As for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s attacks on ICE, including a cease-and-desist order issued to the agency during the summer, Ms. Cobb said that was on the governor.
“I think Gov. Cuomo will do what Gov. Cuomo does,” she said.
But Ms. Cobb does think finding immigration solutions that do not make citizens feel left behind and that meet the needs of the north country will take input from everyone.
“States and Congress need to work together,” she said. “We need to hold hearings… that’s what good governance is.”