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January 5, 2014

CEPEDA: A path to immigration compromise?

Immigration reform is not dead. It’s just waiting for lawmakers to drop the politics, strike a compromise and get it done.

The Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project seems to back up the idea that a pathway for achieving citizenship is not a make-or-break provision to getting an immigration reform deal. Insisting on citizenship only serves to keep 11.7 million people in a state of terrifying limbo for the sake of appeasing those who care only about scoring points in a future election.

Based on two surveys fielded multilingually in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Pew found that 55 percent of Hispanics say that being able to live and work in the United States legally without the threat of deportation is more important for unauthorized immigrants than a pathway to citizenship, which garnered 35 percent support.

Asian-Americans held similar views, though to a lesser degree, with 49 percent favoring relief from deportation over a pathway to citizenship (44 percent).

Pew does not break out its estimates of the unauthorized immigrant population beyond counting those of Mexican descent, who make up 59 percent of those here without proper credentials. But the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) estimated that in 2011, unauthorized immigrants hailing from the largest Latin American and Asian countries represented approximately 85 percent of all immigrants without legal permission.

This tells me that a majority of the majority of the ethnic and racial groups with skin in the immigration reform game would be willing to compromise on a package that provided the legal status, working rights and in-state college tuition preferences without including an expedited or “special” pathway to citizenship.

Such a plan would not — as the politically motivated vote-counters who wrap themselves in the American flag to decry a “permanent underclass” claim — limit the ability of any legal permanent resident to work toward the American Dream of living here peacefully, sending their children to public schools, buying a house or starting a business.

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