OPINION

Rosario Marin: Immigration action puts politics first

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Our elected officials have another chance to do something real to help jump-start U.S. economic growth, a goal that has been largely elusive despite six years of efforts to pump trillions of dollars into the economy through fiscal stimulus and easy money policies. Immigration reform has been shown in study after study to be nothing but a boon for the U.S. economy — not to mention it’s the right and moral thing to keep families together rather than breaking them up through mass deportations.

About the only good thing that can come out of the executive order is it will not include onerous restrictions on visa-dependent employers in the information technology sector that were included in the Senate-passed bill in 2013, which would end up increasing costs on U.S. businesses and shipping jobs overseas.

- Rosario Marin


That’s why it is so disappointing that President Obama has decided to throw out prospects for a permanent, bipartisan solution for our nation’s broken immigration system by acting unilaterally with a series of patchwork fixes intended to placate the Democratic Party’s liberal base. 

The President’s Las Vegas announcement, clearly designed to prop up Hispanic turnout in a bellwether state and help his friend Senator Harry Reid, who is up for re-election in 2016, is nothing but a political sop that may not even pass Constitutional muster. Republicans in Congress are rightly upset, and unfortunately the President’s tactics also seem designed to bait the GOP into appearing anti-Hispanic.

Because the American people don’t support this unilateral action, it will only end up undermining prospects for bipartisan action on a lasting fix. A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that only 38 percent of Americans back the President’s executive actions, against 48 percent who oppose them. Support among independents is only 37 percent, while at 63 percent not even two-thirds of Democrats said they support the President’s executive orders.

However, what is clear is that a vast majority of Americans – 74 percent - do support immigration reform that creates a pathway to citizenship for those who pass a security background check and pay back taxes and fines. Thus it is clear that if the legislative process were allowed to work, Congress still could come together on a permanent solution – particularly given the nation’s demographics and 2016 elections around the corner.

Thus Republicans cannot and should not take the bait the President is dangling in front of them. Immigration reform is too important to let the President’s ploy work and allow him to blame Republicans for the defeat of these critical policy changes. Because it is unclear what legal standing the President has, his actions could end up overturned in a court of law.

His executive orders also can’t change the clear wording of the law, for instance, provisions capping the number of H-1B visas for highly skilled computer scientists, engineers and others who want to come to America to help our businesses grow. About the only good thing that can come out of the executive order is it will not include onerous restrictions on visa-dependent employers in the information technology sector that were included in the Senate-passed bill in 2013, which would end up increasing costs on U.S. businesses and shipping jobs overseas.

As a first-generation Mexican immigrant, I have long believed individuals and families from all over the world should be allowed to follow their dreams and come to the United States. Our nation is stronger and built to last as a result of the contributions of successive waves of hard-working immigrants, often fleeing strife, violence and hunger in their homelands.

As a lifelong Republican, liberalized immigration policies are at the core of our party’s commitment to the free movement of people and ideas. Welcoming the best and brightest to our shores promotes the uniquely American values of democracy, freedom from oppression, and the notion that if you work hard, you will get ahead — it doesn’t matter where you came from.

An increased immigration will unquestionably help to grow our economy: it will import new entrepreneurial ideas, creating new businesses and jobs; increase the size of our labor force; lead to more consumer spending, on everything from homes and cars to dinners out at the local pizza joint; and reduce our deficits and debt as more people are working and paying their taxes. If anything can get our economy out of the rut it remains in after six years of President Obama’s failed recovery efforts, immigration reform is it.

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Rosario Marin was the 41st Treasurer of the United States and is co-chair of the American Competitiveness Alliance.

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