No immigration path to legal status with GOP, no path without them

“The President urges the House of Representatives to take action and move this bill or similar legislation forward, and stands willing to work with all parties to make sure that commonsense immigration reform becomes a reality as soon as possible.” – from a White House report, released Wednesday morning, entitled, “The Economic Benefits of Fixing Our Broken Immigration System

There are a lot of issues being dumped at the doorstep of the Republican party’s apparent unwillingness to engage in a comprehensive approach to immigration reform. Most of it is just an extension of the other problems the GOP finds itself facing, these days. It pushes the buttons of the extreme elements in their political base, like the Tea Party, and the white voters they count on, especially in the Deep South, who believe that the country works best when they, and people like them, rule (even though many immigrants here without permission come from the same parts of the world as their ancestors).

It also frightens the talking head intelligentsia who don’t want to sacrifice the base for a bill that “[t]here is no case for” and “certainly no urgency to pass,” as the National Review and the Weekly Standard wrote, in a rare joint editorial this week.

It was rushed through in a “hasty manner,” wrote the Reviews’s Rich Lowry and the Standard’s Bill Kristol, because “Republicans eager to back the bill are doing so out of political panic… This is silly. Are we supposed to believe that Republican Senate candidates running in states such as Arkansas, North Carolina, Iowa, Virginia, and Montana will be hurt if the party doesn’t embrace Chuck Schumer’s immigration bill?”

In that vein, the bombastic conservative, Rep. Steve King (R-IA), told a group of House Republicans, Monday, that a pathway to citizenship was a boon to Democrats and dangerous for his party because, “Two out of every three of the new citizens would be Democrats,” so why bother enabling that?

Most in the U.S. Senate, including the Gang of Eight’s Marco Rubio (R-FL), a son of immigrants, say that we have a moral obligation to give the more than 11 million people who work to build this country an eventual say at the ballot box. But King disputes that. “There’s no moral calling for us to solve the problem that they created for themselves,” he told Newsmax, Tuesday.

King went on to say:

“If you legalize people that are here illegally, that means that it is a path to citizenship.

“Eventually, those folks that are rewarded with the objective of their crime will be voting. They will have the measure of citizenship — and we can get to that piece, maybe we can understand then, as a group, that there’s nothing in this for Republicans, Independents, Americans.

“It isn’t good for the American people. The only people in America who are beneficiaries of such a policy would be elitists, political power-brokering Democrats and those who hire illegals. Other than that, there’s nothing in it for Americans.”

White House report on Economic Benefits of Fixing Immigration
White House report, released July 10, 2013, listing the economic benefits of comprehensive immigration reform. (click to view pdf file)

But the House Republican leadership, in a meeting with their entire caucus, Wednesday afternoon, reportedly made it clear to the membership that “doing nothing isn’t an option,” according to Politico. And The Hill reports that Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) said Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) insisted that Republicans risked being “in a much weaker position if we didn’t act.”

Even former president, George W. Bush, who was unsuccessful at his own attempt at immigration reform, said, Wednesday, “America can be a lawful society and a welcoming society at the same time.”

In an homage to his “compassionate conservative” political label, Bush, speaking at a citizenship oath ceremony, at his presidential library, in Dallas, Texas, urged lawmakers to “remember the vast majority of immigrants are decent people who work hard and support their families and practice their faith and lead responsible lives.”

The Democrats say that any comprehensive immigration reform package must include a pathway to citizenship to get their vote. Republicans say border security first, and then we can talk about legal citizenship. We would like to think that our Congress is more concerned about doing the right thing in a fair and equitable manner, but given their clear majority in the lower chamber, it is, perhaps, wiser to assume that Republicans will treat the floor of the House as they do all those state houses around the country where their party has rammed through base-satisfying legislation. They will not take it conference with the bill the Senate passed last month, because they ar afraid they will have to accept a pathway to legal status.

If we get any bill at all out of the U.S. House of Representatives, it will likely be a border security bill with language about verifiability, and stronger penalties for those who hire immigrants who are here without the proper documents. Certainly, they will tout that as immigration reform. What it won’t be is comprehensive immigration reform, but it will probably be enough for them to bullshit their way through the next election.

As far as the immigrants in limbo, the DREAMers and the laborers, the writers and the doctors and the lawyers, King insists they self-deport. “They can easily solve it just by returning to the country where they can live legally,” he said. But what else do you expect from a guy who, after comparing immigrants to a litter of dogs, during last year’s campaign, defended himself by saying, “If someone is insulted by that, I don’t know that they belong in this country.”

Too bad he’s not the only one who feels that way. Sadly, there are many, not only in the 113th Congress, but in this country, who agree with King, and they offend me with their limited view of what it means to be American. We have spent more than a century marketing ourselves as “The Land of Opportunity.” Is that not an invitation to everyone in the world to come to our shores, even if they must start with nothing, and better their lives? Maybe we need to change it to “Land of False Expectations.”

No. If there’s anything we need to change, it’s getting those who withhold the promise of America for political gain out of Congress, and electing people who are more committed to doing what is right for the future of our country than what serves their immediate political ambitions.


One thought on “No immigration path to legal status with GOP, no path without them

  1. PG well written piece as usual. I disagree with your characterization and offense taken at the end of your article. Your proclamation that “We have spent more than a century marketing ourselves as …” is missing an important fact. This “Land or Opportunity” is most uniquely a land of laws. Of course this county welcomes immigrants, visitors, business people from all over the world. However, those that enter the country illegally or remain in this country illegally after abusing our visa system, undermine the value of legal immigration to those that follow the laws. No one on the republican side of the aisle is withholding the promise out of political gain. Your mischaracterization and the same broad brush painting of conservatives by the leadership in the Democrat Party, is a yolk that conservatives in American politics have been bearing since the era of LBJ. But it does not change the fact that Conservatives, by their very nature, are trying to conserve existing laws and to even, G-d forbid, enforce exiting laws. Comprehensive immigration reform as proposed in the Senate bill has been tried before and it failed. This is part of the reason we are in a worse situation than we were in the Reagan Era regarding managing our illegal alien population. Hopefully, the House will take a more incremental, results based approach to handle enforcement of existing laws in conjunction with new legislation.


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