How often have we heard the refrain, just because it’s the easy path does not make it the right path? In the current immigration reform debate, I would like to drive home this conventional wisdom to my political party – the Republican Party.
It’s easy to sit by and let other issues overwhelm the political debate. It’s easy to avoid an issue that could be politically risky. It’s easy to fall back on worn-out but safe rhetoric. But it is not right. What this country needs and the GOP needs is to take the right path on immigration reform. There are a myriad of reasons why we need to do this; it’s fiscally sound, it’s economically intelligent, it secures our borders, it will gain votes for our party in the long run and it is right for American communities and families. This matter is urgent, it needs attention and it needs it now.
The Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan entity, estimated that the Senate Immigration Reform Bill S. 744 would decrease federal budget deficits by 158 billion dollars over the next ten years. They estimated that implementing this legislation would result in net discretionary costs of 23 billion dollars. While the House has made clear that it will pursue its own path, and not use the Senate bill, it is essential that any legislation emerging from the House pursue the fiscal benefits identified by the CBO. The current bills out of the House are not the right direction – such as the (un) “SAFE Act” – which merely repackages an enforcement-only and deportation approach.
Across the nation, religious groups are uniting. Earlier this week, the Interfaith Immigration Coalition launched 40 days of prayer, fasting, and advocacy on a telephonic press conference with national Catholic, Protestant and Jewish leaders to ignite a “compassion surge.”
Small businesses are joining labor and community leaders to demand that their Members of Congress get back to work on immigration reform with a path to citizenship.
As the President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and dedicated practitioner of immigration law for over 20 years, I can tell you better than anyone that our current system is broken. It does not reflect our ideals. It does not reflect what we are capable of as a nation. It does not reflect our greatness and our value system.
Now is not the time to stand by and take the easy path. I call on you as a staunch Republican, my political brothers and sisters, to do the right thing for this nation and for our future generations. Fix our broken immigration system. The time is now.