After the House Republican Conference met this afternoon to discuss immigration reform plans, I held out hope that the Leadership of my party would see the light. (Yes, I’m an immigration lawyer and a Republican, there are actually quite a few of us out there.) Instead they’ve turned away from what needs to be done and seemingly plan to ignore the hard work of their Republican colleagues in the Senate and House, dismiss the pleas from conservative leadership in the US Chamber, reject the calls for help from small businesses, and essentially destroy the possibility of real reform this year.
How are they going to do that you ask? They are intent on not taking up the bipartisan compromise Senate bill that was backed by a super majority of the Senate, including 14 Republicans. They refuse to consider comprehensive immigration reform at all, choosing to push forward on a few individual pieces of incomplete and, in some cases, outright dangerous legislation that would cause economic havoc (SAFE Act anyone?). And while the stalwart group of seven bipartisan House members has been trying to finalize a comprehensive bill in time, with the summer recess fast approaching, and no commitment by Speaker Boehner to take up the legislation if it is introduced, time is passing swiftly.
Despite the public support, the rallies, the voter polls, the stories of human impact and families, and the supportive quotes they themselves gave after the November elections, I am disappointed to see that real reform doesn’t appear to be the Republican Leadership’s priority. If it were, they’d take up the Senate bill, see it passed–with some amendments I’m sure–and then send a strong bill to conference committee so the differences between the two chambers could be hashed out.
It’s like that old adage, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” I will continue to beat the drum about the economic benefits of real immigration reform that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has reported. I will make visits to my legislators, call, email, write letters to the editor and op-ed pieces. I will encourage AILA members and stakeholders to do the same.
By sharing powerful examples and taking action, I hope we can give House members from both parties an understanding of why our nation needs balanced, strong, and rational immigration reform. Make them thirsty to get this important work done. Make them thirsty enough, and they’ll drink.