First, Republicans said they wouldn’t work with Democrats on immigration if health care passed—now they will. The Obama administration announced that immigration enforcement would target dangerous criminals only—but as it turns out, they aren’t. Senator Chuck Schumer said we’re moving forward on immigration, while his partner, Senator Lindsey Graham, insists that the President write a bill and take the lead first. Senator John McCain was a staunch immigrant supporter—that is, until he received political challenges from the right. Lou Dobbs hates immigrants—or does he? Immigration reform is dead, alive, dead, no alive. Our nation is facing a deficit and immigration reform could help fill the hole—but some feel that reform is too big a lift. If you aren’t studying the day-to-day actions of politicians and administration types in Washington, you can miss a lot. And if you are, it’s all a bit dizzying.
For a year, Senators Schumer and Graham have been thinking, talking and drafting ideas for a bill. After a year of pressure, they finally published an op-ed to show their progress—yet there is still no real legislation for other Senators to review and weigh in on. While immigration watchers anxiously await legislative language, it seems as if more time is being spent pointing fingers than moving forward. After weeks of threats from Graham that immigration reform will die if health care reform passes, GOP members report today that the Senate is prepared to move forward on bipartisan initiatives.
After many assurances from top administration officials that immigration enforcement would target employers and remove dangerous criminals only, memos written by ICE were leaked this week to reveal an agency more motivated by quotas than principles. The detailed memos were disavowed quickly by the agency, but only after they were revealed in the Washington Post.
Meanwhile, Senator McCain continues to turn his back on sensible immigration reform as he faces a challenge to his Senate seat from a right-leaning candidate—basically walking away from many years of commitment to the issue and becoming an enforcement-only supporter with the likes of extreme anti-immigrant activist Tom Tancredo. On the other hand, long-time immigrant basher Lou Dobbs continues to appear on Spanish language television to undo his reputation as one of the “most hated people within the Hispanic community”—claiming his positions have been misunderstood.
In the midst of this dizzying batch of news one constant exists that should be driving everyone to support immigration reform. For months, reformers have touted the economic benefits of legalizing millions of clandestine workers—so the U.S. can fully realize immigrants’ tax and consumer potential. During this same period columnists and political operatives bemoan the insurmountable deficit our country is building, while ignoring one smart and reasonable boost to our economy—legalization.
Ignoring the obvious is a well-honed political trait, but in the topsy turvy world of Washington politics there comes a point when you can’t ignore what has been staring you in the face all along. Dealing with comprehensive immigration reform now offers us a way to regain control of our immigration system, improve the economy and set the world (or at least a tiny part of it) back on its feet.
Photo by DenisGiles.