Friday, February 1, 2013
President Obama says “Now’s the time” and he is talking about making immigration reform a reality for the U.S. in a way that will benefit both the 11-plus million who are undocumented and our country as well. Keep in mind, this legislation does not apply just to Hispanics but also to Asians, Europeans, etc. Those of us who came here like Obama said for a better life, which includes everyone but Native Americans. It is easy to forget the heritage of our ancestors who came to the U.S. through Ellis or Angel Islands to work and contribute in the new country.
It is true of course; they were legal, at least most of them. And the 11-plus million undocumenteds are illegal. But according to a CNN/ORC International poll conducted this month, 53% of Americans favor allowing this group to become legal residents opposed to 43% who don’t. And what if we followed the latter’s advice and deported the illegals? Restaurants and the hospitality industry would be without help; there would be no gardeners to take care of your yards; no one to clean your house; and agricultural fields would have no one to work them and the crops would rot. Do we want that?
FACT CHECK reports that “Economists say immigration, legal or illegal, doesn’t hurt American workers.” But a new House Caucus, Reclaim American Jobs consisting of 41 members says otherwise. The economists counter there is little to support their claim that these undocumenteds take American jobs. At least those in which Americans are willing to work. With this obstacle out of the way you would think that most states would understand the need for this group of workers. But a clueless Arizona Governor is still fighting to prevent illegals from getting driver licenses, even under Obama’s deferred action plan.
The President has a plan that is a broadly sweeping outline of what needs to be accomplished in immigration reform. He advocates focusing on enforcement while strengthening border security then insuring that businesses don’t knowingly hire illegal workers. Obama is convinced we must deal with the 11+ million illegal immigrants, but at the same time feels this group must have hope for citizenship. And he would update and upgrade the current immigration system to the point that it is more user-friendly in accommodating legals to get their families into the U.S.
The Gang of Eight Senators
But CNN chief political analystGloria Borger said, “…she believes Obama is playing good cop-bad cop, with his own left-leaning proposals being the bad cop and his Senate colleagues being the good cop. He's essentially saying, if you don’t deal with them, you’re going to deal with me.” So enter the on-and-off Senator from Arizona, John McCain. He was for immigration reform when he wasn’t running for office but changed his position radically to conform to the demands of the AZ Tea Party when a presidential candidate. Now he’s back on the side of immigrants again. The classic flip-flop.
Time’s Swampland exclaims that John McCain has been a determined opponent of Barack Obama since the scathing loss to the President in 2008. The Gang of Eight Senators includes 4 Democrats, Bob Menendez, NJ, Dick Durbin, IL, Charles Schumer, NY, and Michael Bennet, CO. Republicans are McCain, AZ, Marco Rubio, FL, Lindsey Graham, SC and Jeff Flake, AZ. Swampland says this bunch has a blueprint introduced the day before Obama’s but very much a parallel to what he proposed, as follows:
“It would create a ‘tough but fair’ path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants while beefing up border security. It would streamline the legal immigration system and create incentives to lure sought-after tech and science whizzes. It would establish a mechanism for employers to check the immigration status of potential hires. And it would try to create ways for employers — particularly in the agricultural sector — to find low-wage undocumented workers when Americans are not available.”
Any bill will have a hard time getting through the GOP-held House, particularly up against the Tea Party fanatics. The House is also apparently working on a plan of its own. Norm Ornstein, longtime political analyst and co-author of "It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism” had reservations:
“Will this compromise make it through the Senate, once the details are hammered out (always more difficult than frameworks) and with a lot more than 60 votes? Next, will House Republicans, who have very different impulses and constituencies, be supportive? Finally, if not, will (House Speaker John) Boehner bring an immigration bill to the floor that will get many more Democratic votes than Republican?"
If I were a Republican in Congress (God forbid) and I looked at the dynamics of the Hispanic demographic that is exploding throughout the country, I would figure some way to get on the bandwagon. With the total Congress hovering around a 10% approval level, and Republicans who have repeatedly been identified as obstructionists, putting them at even a lower level, my gut tells me that immigration reform will happen this time.
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