Pharos-Tribune

Opinion

November 6, 2013

THEIR VIEW: Move forward on immigration reform

The chance of serious immigration reform passing in these closing weeks of Congress depends on how optimistic you are.

The gloomier prediction is that reform is impossible as many House Republicans are opposed to any bill that provides what they call “amnesty” for the 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the country. The president and Democrats are pushing bills that provide a legal path to citizenship for those who go through the steps and don’t have serious criminal records.

The more optimistic view, growing in recent days, is that more House Republicans — still stung by the rejection of Hispanic voters in the last election — are signing onto the Democrat’s bill.

Let us all be optimistic.

Major immigration reform is not a partisan issue for most Americans. Conservative activists — Evangelical leaders, business executives, law enforcement officials — recently lobbied Congress to pass a major reform bill and to reject the call from some GOP members who want to break apart immigration issues into separate bills.

The best immigration bill would allow law-abiding undocumented immigrants to pursue citizenship. It would continue to provide resources for border security. It would allow law-abiding children of unauthorized immigrants to attend college and serve in the military. And it would create a robust temporary guest-worker program that would allow for enough foreign workers needed in many American industries.

Besides the path to citizenship, another major sticking point in negotiations has been over the level of resources aimed at border security, with many GOP members calling for heightened security. But that view collides with the facts.

According to the Migration Policy Institute, America already spends $18 billion a year on border enforcement, more than all other federal criminal-law-enforcement agencies combined.

And while border security is important, the fact is that half of unauthorized immigrants in the country did not sneak across the border, but overstayed their visas.

Major immigration reform is long overdue and necessary for the economic, social, moral and security benefits of the country.

— The Mankato (Minn.) Free Press

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