Will America see immigration reform in the next six months? If a bipartisan panel of eight Senators get their way, then immigration reform will pass. Since the election, a bipartisan group of senators have hashed out a plan to deal with illegal immigration. The eight include Democrats Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), Dick Durbin (IL), Bob Menendez (N.J.) And Michael Bennett (CO), and Republicans John McCain (AZ), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Marco Rubio (FL) and Jeff Flake (AZ).
The proposal allows for a pathway to citizenship for immigrants but also insists on stronger border control and employer identification systems before legal status for illegal immigrants can be considered. Once tighter border control is in place, illegal immigrants would then have to register with the government, pay back taxes and a fine and pass a background check. Immigrants with serious criminal records would face deportation.
“Other bipartisan groups of senators have stood in the same spot before trumpeting similar proposals. But we believe this will be the year Congress finally gets it done,” said Sen. Charles Schumer. “The politics of this issue have been turned upside down. For the first time ever, there’s more political risk in opposing immigration reform than in supporting it.”
To explain the GOP’s about-face on immigration Senator John McCain gave a one-word answer:
He continued: “The Republican Party is losing the support of our Hispanic citizens.... This is a preeminent issue for those citizens.”
That begs the question: do you sell out your principles to win an election? The answer to that particular question, I think, is no– not for a single election. But do you need to reevaluate when that principle can turn your party into a regional party, rather than a national one? Do you need to reevaluate when principles will continue to cost your party election after election?
My personal feelings on immigration pull me in both directions. I get Republican disdain for amnesty. One should not be rewarded for doing something illegal in the first place. To say I didn’t care for Elvira Arellano would be an understatement. Ms. Arellano lived in Chicago illegally for several years, during which time, she bore a child. After being convicted of working under a false social security number, she fled into a Chicago church, where she lived for over a year. For that year she publically thumbed her nose at the laws of the United States by defying the order to leave the country. She very publically spoke out in support of rights of illegal immigrants and used her son– born in the United States– as the reason why she should be able to stay.
For me, if you come to the United States and choose to do so illegally, you put yourself (and your family) at risk. So when you get busted for it, I don’t get the surprise. I don’t get the anger. After Ms. Arellano was arrested, Javier Rodriguez, A Chicago immigration activist said “We are sad, but at the same time we are angry. How dare they arrest this woman?”
They arrested her because she broke the law.
But then I think of personal stories current immigration policy affects. I applaud the DREAM Act. I don’t see why a person, who knows no other home other than the United States, if that person is working to make herself and our country better, can’t stay and continue on that quest legally and without fear of deportation. Not only does that make our country stronger, but it’s fair.
I also think of many people who are not documented; many of whom we all know. The majority of immigrants work harder than many Americans. Many work long days in jobs Americans won’t take. Jobs that need doing. When I am asked for change on the street, I am often tempted to ask the person: how is it that someone who doesn’t speak the language, wasn’t born here, sneaks into the country, and doesn’t have a social security number can become gainfully employed and you can’t? Is it a cold-hearted question? Yes. That’s why I never stop to ask it; but the question goes through my mind.
If I was in charge and didn’t mind doing something completely unconstitutional, I’d allow for people here illegally to switch spots with someone here sitting on their rump. Cut the excess fat and maybe get some otherwise able people working again. Fortunately, our country provides its citizens a security net. Unfortunately, some people use that net as a hammock. Do I sound like the love child of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity? Probably... and that frightens me because I’m half serious.
Fortunately for everyone, I’m not in charge. Hopefully, Congress can actually do something productive and reform immigration. However rosy things look now, the fight is likely to be uphill. Congressman Lamar Smith a Texas Republican gave the argument for the opposition:
“When you legalize those who are in the country illegally, it costs taxpayers millions of dollars, costs American workers thousands of jobs, and encourages more illegal immigration. By granting amnesty, the Senate proposal actually compounds the problem by encouraging more illegal immigration.”
Ultimately, immigration reform hinges on Republican support. Do Republicans think immigration reform is an issue that will lose just one election or a series of elections? Watch closely. We’ll learn that answer in the next three months.