Saturday, July 05, 2014

Immigration: How reform died

“One year ago,” said Susan Page in USA Today, “Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and fellow members of the bipartisan Gang of Eight watched as the immigration bill they helped negotiate swept the Senate to chants of ‘Yes, we can!’” The legislation, supported by business, religious, and law-enforcement groups, aimed to set 11 million undocumented immigrants on a path to citizenship. One year on, that bill is officially dead. Speaker John Boehner this week confirmed that House Republicans wouldn’t act on the Senate’s legislation, while President Obama vowed to use executive action to try to fix America’s broken immigration system on his own. Who’s to blame for the bill’s death? asked Lawrence Downes in “Republicans in the House.” Cowed by their Tea Party fringe, GOP moderates have found countless ways “to say no and do nothing.” Now, with the midterms looming and electioneering taking over, “an opportunity for once-in-a-generation reform is gone.”

House Republicans were right to oppose immigration reform, said Debra Saunders in the San Francisco Chronicle. Just take a look at the current humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, where more than 52,000 unaccompanied children from Central America have crossed over illegally in the past year alone. Obama’s promise of amnesty, coupled with his administration’s lax law enforcement, has acted like a magnet for these vulnerable kids. Immigration advocates have to face facts, said Mark Krikorian in National Until Obama’s administration demonstrates that it actually “wants to control the border,” the stalemate between the president and House Republicans “is likely to continue.”

Conservatives have it “exactly backwards,” said Greg Sargent in The humanitarian crisis is “an argument in favor of immigration reform, not against it.” Most of the kids surging the border will never qualify for legal status, but they’re crossing over because our current immigration stalemate has produced enough ambiguity for them to think sneaking in is worth a shot. Worse, today’s laws channel these kids into lengthy legal proceedings, allowing them to disappear into America’s shadows in the process. Congress could easily remove this ambiguity by passing new immigration laws—ones that would also strengthen the border, as the Senate bill does. Or our lawmakers could do nothing and “perpetuate the very problem critics decry.”
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