For the past year, people from across the country have come to see firsthand how dysfunctional Washington can come to be: Republicans forcing a government shutdown, failure to expand unemployment benefits for millions of Americans, and the their obsession with repealing Obamacare.
But despite all of the partisanship that consumes Washington on a daily basis, recent signals from the Republican leadership have indicated a possibility that their party might be ready to embrace immigration reform and pass a bill through Congress.
As always, there will be the two extremes: Republicans will call out amnesty, or some Democrats will walk away if a path to citizenship isn’t a part of the Republican’s idea of a bill.
Speaker of the House, John Boehner, recently hired Rebecca Tallen, a longtime immigration adviser to Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who has supported immigration reform in the past, to head his immigration efforts.
In addition, recent conversations and meetings within the Republican leadership have indicated that their party is looking to release an immigration blueprint that will highlight a series of principles that the leadership hopes to see on a potential immigration bill.
Releasing a set of principles is a good start but far from where we need to be. For months, Republicans have expressed interest in presenting a set of bills to solve the issue of immigration on a step-by-step process. And as time goes by, there’s one question that the American people keep on asking: Where are the bills?
President Obama has already expressed interest in a “piece-meal approach”, as long as all aspects of immigration are resolved. Regardless whether immigration reform is done in a comprehensive matter or in a piece-by-piece approach, immigration reform needs to happen.
As always, there will be the two extremes: Republicans will call out amnesty, or some Democrats will walk away if a path to citizenship isn’t a part of the Republican’s idea of a bill. At the end of the day, both parties will have to sacrifice to see a bill get through the House of Representatives.
One way of doing this, where both parties could potentially agree, is easing the current legal channels. Speeding up the process for companies to sponsor their employees for a green card and allowing students to be given a green card if they graduate from a U.S. high school or university would put them on a path to legal status.
Regardless of how we do this, Republicans need to act. If they fail to do so, not only will they be politically vulnerable for the upcoming midterm elections, but they won’t have a realistic chance of being competitive in 2016.
With almost 30 years since our immigration system was last reformed, now more than ever it’s time for Washington to put their differences aside, acknowledge that each side will have to give something up, and reform our immigration system once and for all.