(image by Kevin Walsh)
What was once regarded by President Obama to be the “most important domestic policy agenda of his second term,” now seems to be a messy impasse strung by the threads of partisan politics.
Immigration reform—gridlocked by disagreements mainly within the Republican Party—is not on the fast track to progress. Heavy opposition still circulates around the issues of border defense and amnesty for illegal residents.
But there is no doubt that immigration control is a federal responsibility; and because of that, so is reform legislation.
Democrats, growing more eager to break the standstills in the House, consider the initiative to be more time pressing than do Republicans. According to a study by Pew Research Center conducted last June, 53 percent of Democrats reported their support for the quick passing of legislation in Congress within a year.
Aligning with the Democrats is a strong share of the public. In a newer national survey by Pew, it was reported that the majority of those surveyed favored giving 11 million of the undocumented immigrants a form of in-between status.
Ironically, this provision is starred and stamped in the same GOP-led Bill currently being stalled by the leaders of the GOP. The Senate was authored by three Republicans, and passed with a bipartisan 67 votes. So why the political discord now?
For House Republicans, confronting immigration reform was not so much a top priority this year. Democrats disfavor the Republican’s piecemeal approach and Republicans question why Democrats did not push for immigration reform when they controlled both Houses of Congress. It is the reality of the division at work.
Still, President Obama insists that the people must place pressure on those who have refused to act thus far for the Bill that is the “right thing to do, the important thing to do, the fair thing to do.
The right, the important, the fair. Sounds largely entrenched in civic worthiness. But it can’t be fair to put that civic duty upon the common man when the lawmaker is already equipped with all the right tools.
In President Obama’s defense, the results of the Bill are no lightweight alterations. Unlike any other time in our history, the largest amount of border enforcement will surface, a system of fines and a national e-verify will unfold, and a 13-year plan to citizenship for illegal aliens will set precedent.
Then there’s the economy.
According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, that Bill would boost our economy by 3.3 percent and lessen the federal deficit by $200 billion over the next decade. And yet it is still being sidelined like the uncoordinated kid at a kickball game.
To bypass the stalling, Democrats are contemplating to launch a discharge petition to bring the Bill out of committee to the floor for consideration. The legislative maneuver has only won out twice since 1985, as it would necessitate the support of an absolute majority of House representatives.
Even if the tactic flops, Democrats still hope to generate a degree of pressure to move reforms to the floor this year. For those looking toward the 2016 presidential elections, this would only serve to help.
Perhaps it’s not about the gridlocks nor the sidelining, but the seeing of solutions in a complicated scenario. It is about creating an enforceable system for immigrants to pass through, not around, when eyes aren’t watching. It is for the 11 million undocumented to align with the law and with a society they can enrich from behind the shadows.
Because at the end of the year, it is not the Bill being sidelined, nor the Democrats, nor President Obama—it is, after all, those 11 million.
Arianna Talaie is a sophomore at the College of William & Mary, studying Government with a focus on Public Policy. She developed an interest for international health care systems after interning for the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) in Washington DC, but also focuses on researching matters concerning international trade and immigration reform.