In 2013, the U.S. Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill, with 78 senators, including 14 Republicans, voting yes. House Republican leadership was for it, or used to be.
Now they’d rather get caught sitting during the national anthem than talk about the issue.
The bill calls for a path to citizenship that could take up to a dozen years. Along the way, illegal immigrants would pay penalties and taxes. In exchange, they could emerge from the shadows and become more productive, taxpaying citizens while keeping their families together. They could continue in jobs that American employers would otherwise have difficulty filling.
The bill is humane, economically wise and improves security.
But it’s been pulled apart for political gain. Opponents of reform duck the thorniest question: What to do about the approximately 11 million illegal immigrants already here? They say the border must be secured before that discussion can begin. They say this because they have no answer – certainly not one the unrealistic “no amnesty” crowd would ever accept.
The Senate bill would spend $46.3 billion on increased security, including 38,405 full-time Border Patrol agents along the southern border – twice the number currently in place – and at least 700 miles of fencing, including double fencing in some places. High-tech surveillance would be dramatically increased. More prosecutors, judges and staff would be hired to speed deportation proceedings and resolve cases in which people have overstayed their visas.
Not good enough, say the opponents. “Secure the border first. Then we’ll talk.”
Enter Donald Trump, who went further and explicitly stated that illegal immigrants would have to leave the country before seeking citizenship. He peppered his comments with ugly remarks about rapists and murderers, and topped it off with the preposterous claim that the country would build a “big, beautiful wall” and Mexico would pay for it.
Millions of Republicans lapped it up, and Trump dispatched his rivals in the presidential primary.
Most of those candidates wouldn’t take a stand on what to do with illegal immigrants who are already here. Trump did. In fact, he’s taken multiple positions in the past week. He even traveled to Mexico, but he couldn’t bring himself to confront that country’s president with what he says at every rally.
“We didn’t discuss payment of the wall. That’ll be for a later date,” Trump had said after the meeting in Mexico City. Mexico’s president said he told Trump “no” on payment.
Face it, folks: Mexico is not buying us a wall. This whirl of activity signifies nothing. It’s all about political gain. “That’ll be for a later date” is the perfect bumper sticker for all of the politicians blocking comprehensive immigration reform. They are afraid – not of immigrants, but of voters.
They have no answers on the tough questions, so they block reform without passing their own bill. Then they hype the danger, so you’ll stay focused on that “big, beautiful wall.”
It’s a mirage.
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