Monday, December 10, 2012

Republicans Are Moving on Immigration

The Republicans are branching out on their left and their right to find the principled compromise of the center. The House of Representatives has already passed two budgets, while the Democratically-controlled has failed. The fiscal cliff is looming, and yet for all of their talk, the Democrats have refused to face the entitlement burdens pushing out future over the edge.

In another demonstration of efficacy, the Republicans in the House of Representatives passed the STEM Jobs Act (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) as a good-faith effort to get the federal government moving on immigration reform. In this proposed legislation, immigrants who graduate from American universities with Masters Degrees and PhD's will no longer have to wait in line in order to receive a green card. Currently, the waits is so grating, that highly-skilled college graduates leave this country with their quality American education and work for global competitors. This brain drain is an insane waste of talent for this country. Even FOX political pundit Sean Hannity has acquiesced toward an easier stance on immigration.

Still another move toward the center, the notoriously left-wing collective bargaining unit SEIU has applauded former President George W. Bush's support for comprehensive immigration reform. President Bush, the hated "cause of every problem" which besets the Republic, set the stage of the Republican Party to reach out to Hispanics without alienating the base or the country. In 2004, he won 44% of the vote, yet the Republican Presidential candidates have fared worse since then. Bush was properly pragmatic on this issue, more so than the recent upstanding elements which have rigged primary fights and then pushed the 2012 Presidential candidate Mitt Romney further to the right. Standard-bearers like former President Bush can help transmit conservative principles without causing Republicans to cave in on themselves or alienate the growing constituency of minority voters who want more than a minority voice in national politics.

In the US Senate, junior senator Rand Paul of Kentucky represents the kind of bipartisan leadership that this country needs to break the gridlock grinding our government to a halt. A libertarian on use of controlled substances, ready and willing to vote against his party on social and fiscal issues, Rand Paul is open to compromise without cowering to the opposition.

Not just with the drugs laws, Paul has also evinced an open mind for a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. This month on the US Senate floor, Paul advanced the immigration bill which had already passed the House. From Mort Zuckerman of US News and World Report to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the widespread consensus on this step toward immigration reform should galvanize both sides to come together and pass this bill.

Rand Paul chided his colleagues to plea for passage. "Many of us want reform. I want it noted that we can talk a small step." To allow PhD and Master Degree immigrants to receive green cards is no unseemly idea. Rand Paul properly indicts the President and majority party for "wanting everything." Part of the problem in Washington, then, stems (no pun intended) from both sides wanting everything. This path to unbrokered argument and empty partisanship is hurting more than helping.
Senator Paul echoes the growing sentiment of frustration among voters in the United States. With a still divided Congress, voters complain: "Why is this system broken? Why can't Congress agree on this bill?" Leaders on both sides of the aisle want a plan of action which guarantees them everything. This is not what representative democracy is about. Neither side will ever get all that it wants, but voters should not have to tolerate the intolerant stone-walling which holds back anything from getting done. If the Democratic majority wants to prevent incremental immigration proposals for the better, they may face the same backlash which motivated voters to return the same divided government to Congress this past election.

Up to now, President Obama has had the dubious legacy of deporting the largest number of illegal immigrants in modern history. As a weak recompense, he offered a tepid "non-citizenship" status (non-enforcement) which protects law-abiding immigrant youth whose parents had brought them here before they knew right from wrong. No country can permit non-enforcement of the borders forever, whether Democrat or Republican, but a humane policy which diminishes the welfare state and respects the general welfare of all Americans will ease the debt burden while fostering meaningful immigration reform.

Hispanic voters should look away from the punditry and the politicking and pay attention to the efforts by Republicans to get the government to care about the plight of immigrants. The GOP has advanced reform for the dysfunctional system which prevents hard-working, law-abiding individuals from entering this country without endangering their children or putting citizens, both born and naturalized, in danger. The Democrats have refused to move on the STEM Jobs Act. Either they need to get moving on this issue, or move out of office, and let the Republicans finish the work which former President George W. Bush started.

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