President Barack Obama met with Arizona Senator John McCain and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham to discuss overhauling the nation’s immigration laws. The lawmakers are members of a larger bipartisan Senate group working on a plan to overhaul the nation’s broken immigration system. The president stressed that he shared their commitment to fixing the immigration system and said he hoped there would soon be proposed legislation that would include better enforcement as well as a way for undocumented immigrants to legalize their status.
On the surface, there is plenty of momentum in Congress: The U.S. Senate “Gang of Eight” hope to have a bill by mid-March; labor and business groups agreed on basic principles for low-skill workers; and a series of congressional hearings on the topic already have begun in earnest. However, as with any piece of legislation, it is easy for a bill of this magnitude to get bogged down on questionable “border security” issues. Republicans, especially those from Southwest states, are cautious about endorsing immigration reform after the 2007 backlash at home.
A former Bush administration official who worked closely on the 2007 effort said last week that the key to getting a bill passed is getting legislation to the floor quickly so senators don’t “lose their nerve.”
The task of enfranchising 11-12 million immigrants is a daunting one; and there are valid issues in terms of ensuring that the borders of this nation are not vulnerable. However, the political, and social and economic cost of not giving papers to these immigrants, the vast majority of whom are American in all but name, is far higher.
Immigration is one the primary themes of the American experiment. Politicians from both sides of the aisle should know that immigration reform is non-partisan one. What gives fresh impetus to the drive to enfranchise illegal immigrants is the realization by prominent members of the GOP that their long term survival as a party depends on endorsing comprehensive immigration reform. For that reason, it is safe to assume that immigration reform will be the law of the land in the not too distant future.
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