Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A bipartisan path to immigration reform

Immigration is an area where pragmatic leadership is definitely needed. Those on either side of the issue are passionate about their viewpoints and often unwilling to budge on their demands.

Republican Senator John McCain from Arizona and Democratic Senator Charles Schumer from New York weighed in on the immigration issue in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal. It is a complex issue that has taken years to get to the point where it will be discussed this week in Congress.

In their op-ed, the senators wrote:
This week, we join a bipartisan group of six senators to introduce comprehensive immigration-reform legislation. This is the first step in what will be a very difficult but achievable process to fix the nation's broken immigration system once and for all. The legislation's approach is balanced: It is firm in cracking down on illegal immigration but sensible when it comes to legal immigration.

Our group's effort included the active participation of some of the most conservative and liberal members of the Senate. We engaged in hundreds of hours of very tough negotiations, which nearly broke down at several points. But we forged consensus and now stand ready for an open, transparent process to move this issue forward in Congress.

Like all genuinely bipartisan efforts, this bill is a compromise. It will not please everyone, and no one got everything they wanted. The legislation we introduce on Tuesday has more support than any past effort. In a time of deep partisanship in Washington, groups that have been at loggerheads on a range of issues for years—from the AFL-CIO to the Chamber of Commerce, from the United Farm Workers to the American Farm Bureau Federation—have come together to support our bill.
It remains to be seen if there will be open minds willing to work together and compromise on what has taken hundreds of hours of meetings, discussion, and pounding out areas of concern about how to include:
These requirements include a criminal-background check; paying a fine and back taxes; learning English; and going to the back of the line to wait for the privilege of applying for American citizenship. In this way, we balance America's heritage as a nation of immigrants with the imperative of upholding the rule of law. When these formerly illegal immigrants become law-abiding members of society, it will improve their lives and the lives of their families—and it will strengthen the nation and the U.S. economy.
The column includes much more information that is a must-read for those truly interested in learning all sides of the immigration debate. Push-back has already begun with Senator Marco Rubio receiving criticism about his willingness to compromise. On Tuesday, tea party activists in Florida planned to protest outside his office, saying they were upset at the "closed-door" process that has led to the proposed immigration reform.

The senators conclude by noting, "A healthy, functioning immigration system is vital to securing the integrity of America's sovereign borders, advancing our economic growth, and protecting human dignity." Real reform will take a bipartisan effort with give-and-take from all sides.

More details of the immigration overhaul plans are at The Hill.

Cross-posted at Political Pineapple

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