Reform revived: An immigration revamp gets a bipartisan push

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The intention expressed Tuesday by eight senators, four from each party, and by President Barack Obama on Wednesday to seek rapid reform of America's creaky immigration program is welcome news.

The current U.S. approach is obsolete, chaotic and fundamentally unjust -- and the fact that the president and a divided Congress want to work together for major change is promising.

The warning bell, however, that some Republicans, whose party controls the House, want to block action is disconcerting. Some Democrats might rejoice that House Republicans have not yet grasped the political reality that reform-minded Senate Republicans have -- that Hispanic Americans are a part of the electorate whose growing alienation from the GOP delivered 71 percent of their votes to Mr. Obama in November.

A pro-reform approach by Republicans might help save the party from its destructive reliance on older, white, male, rich support and, thus, inevitable marginalization.

Although it's hard to tell what kind of package might eventually be passed, Mr. Obama's proposals resemble those of the senators: give the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship, strengthen border controls and enforcement, and revise other aspects of the law such as providing more visas to foreigners with advanced work skills.

Fair immigration policy must be a core value of the United States, which, after all, is a nation of immigrants. In taking a hard-line position on the conditions that prospective arrivals must meet, members of Congress should think of how they might feel about their own grandparents having to meet harsh conditions to enter the country. In considering the financial costs of immigrants, it is important also to realize that the economy benefits from the push upward of ambitious newcomers.

Passage of new immigration legislation would represent significant progress for the country, both on its merits and in providing evidence that America's leaders can work together to solve the nation's problems.

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