Demanding an Immigration Bill in the House: It’s Time for Republicans to Act

Demanding an Immigration Bill in the House: It’s Time for Republicans to Act

A new threat was placed on House Speaker John Boehner’s desk last week from the “New Democrat” coalition demanding that he bring an immigration bill to the house floor by the end of September. If he doesn’t, they say they will introduce their own bill.

That bill would be a risky and bold tactic known as a “discharge petition” which brings a piece of legislation to the floor, overriding the people that control the house. This tool is being considered by Democrats to force a vote, or at least put pressure on Republican House leaders to consider immigration in a timely manner.

The use of a discharge petition is exciting for whatever reason. An issue that warrants a discharge petition doesn’t happen everyday. The last time it worked was back in 2002 to force a vote on the campaign finance overhaul. In fact, according to the Congressional Research Service, 563 discharge petitions have been filed since 1931 (when the modern form of the rule emerged) and the House has adopted only 26. This doesn’t give the current effort very good odds- Boehner has already dismissed the idea and is advocating a step-by-step approach in addressing the problem.

But even when the petition (most likely) fails to obtain the amount of signatures it needs, the fact that it was filed should pressure the House to act on immigration. I disagree with Boehner. We can’t address immigration with a series of small steps. It’s time for conservatives to get their heads out of the sand and start hopping, skipping and jumping, to address immigration. Every small step we take is another day that our ineffective, highly bureaucratized and over-burdened immigration system damages our economy and hurts our country.

Comprehensive immigration reform makes sense and not supporting it makes conservatives look either stupid or racist. Or both.

The “gang of eight” bill passed by the Senate (and tentatively supported by George W. Bush) reforms our profoundly broken immigration system. It, first of all, increases spending on border security (which Republicans have never had a problem with) and then goes a step farther by modernizing the legal immigration system (still doesn’t sound so bad). Where the debate really arises though is over the granting of amnesty to the 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the country. I have to take a step here (or hop, skip, jump) and disagree with the majority of Republicans who think this is a bad idea. Actually, if I could convince all Republicans in Washington to do one thing it would be to agree to give the undocumented immigrants in our country a shot at citizenship- that is, amnesty.

Amnesty has become a politically toxic word. But really, the process suggested by the Senate bill isn’t blanket amnesty. Undocumented immigrants would have to pay a fine, learn English and American Civics and wait in the back of the line (for ten years) behind those who are legally immigrating to gain their citizenship. This both acknowledges that they have committed a crime by illegally immigrating and provides a common sense solution to the vast number of undocumented immigrants in our country. Plus, when undocumented immigrants gain citizenship they are protected and subject to the law, contribute to the workforce and are that much more likely to become productive members of society (less crime and less racially homogenous poor neighborhoods).

And supporting this kind of reform shouldn’t be politically blasphemous for conservatives. Even the forever-trusted father of American conservatism, Ronald Reagan, said:

“I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and lived here, even though sometime back they may have entered illegally,” he said.

Let’s trust President Reagan on this one.

With politics, and life come to think of it, I choose to operate off two principles: commonsense and compassion. Comprehensive immigration reform is both logical and compassionate. Reforming our immigration system and granting amnesty is common sense. It will help the economy and provide a system that actually works. What else are we going to do with all the undocumented people living here? Ignore them? Deport them? Neither of those options make much sense- at all. And then there’s compassion. Many of these people who are undocumented are American in everyway expect for on paper, especially young people who’s parents do not have legal status. Take Jose Vargas, who worked his way up at the Washington Post before coming out as undocumented. These people are American. They are not illegal- the act is illegal, not the person.

The smartest thing conservatives can do is support the current push for immigration reform. As the problem gets worse and worse and the Latino vote becomes more and more critical, it’s time for Republicans to be proactive about the problem that’s facing our borders.

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  • forumsforjustice says:

    The Sleazy Luis Gutierrez House Republican Pocket List

  • Lori Jeffries says:

    I COMPLETELY disagree with you. Nothing in the proposed bill gives me ANY confidence that border security would happen first. Why on Earth would you try to clean up a leak without shutting off the faucet first. Every proposal I have heard puts the verification of border security in the hands of those NOT enforcing immigration policy in the first place. I might agree to a path to citizenship for the children that were born here as they are here due to no action of their own, but their parents WILLINGLY broke the law. Have you forgotten the term ILLEGAL immigrant? It is a myth that this will lead to Hispanic votes. We are already fighting a tide of illegal votes, so why do you think they would vote any other way once legal? This is a FOOLISH idea. Reagan, whom you so boldly quote, was “fooled” by this tactic. Haven’t you heard the phrase – fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me? Well, shame on you.

  • Kate says:

    I respect your position on this Katie and certainly understand it. But passing amnesty, in any form, is the quickest was for Boehner to lose his Speakership and the majority in the house. If that happens, we’re dead in the water on everything. Just my opinion. 🙂

  • ROS says:

    “According to Ronald Reagan himself, as told to his trusted long-time friend and U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese, the biggest mistake of his presidency was signing the l986 amnesty for what turned out to be more than half the five million illegal immigrants in the country. Reagan was uncomfortable with the amnesty but was persuaded by some of the leaders of his own party (still living) that it would only affect a small number of illegal immigrants and would assure that Congress would follow through with more vigorous enforcement of U.S. immigration laws. The misnamed Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 was touted by its supporters as “comprehensive immigration reform” that would grant amnesty only to a few long-settled immigrants and strengthen border security and internal immigration enforcement against employers who were hiring illegal immigrants.”

  • LibertyGirl says:

    From your piece:
    “Comprehensive immigration reform makes sense and not supporting it makes conservatives look either stupid or racist. Or both.”

    You write something like that, insulting those of us who disagree with our nation being handed over to illegals, and expect us to take you seriously? I am neither racist nor stupid. What I AM, is an American who’s tired of watching illegals come to this country and take jobs and benefits. Tired of their gangs and their drugs and their absolute refusal to assimilate. Tired of the terrorists that come in with them.

    If you’re going to write a piece claiming how amnesty is such a great thing, then you better be very well-versed on crime rates, which I’m guessing you’re not. You should also understand prison population dynamics, recidivism rates, and how illegals play into all of it. You should be able to talk economic drain and housing market changes, or the decline in skilled labor because illegal crews work for cheaper than American ones. You should also be aware of the fact that Mexico’s second biggest income source is money being sent home from here by illegals. That’s money they are taking from our economy that is not being replaced. That’s not even talking about the environmental biohazard on the border right now in terms of hundreds of thousands of tons of waste, trash, and human by products. Or the ranchers on the border whose land has become a human highway, where they are literally held hostage by the inscrupulous criminals coming thru on a nightly basis. Or the combat zone occurring on the border between US agents who have their hands tied, and lawless coyotes, drug runners, and human traffickers. Why are their hands tied? Because so called conservatives like you want to think with their emotions.

    To be frank, you’re writing about a topic you really know nothing about.

    As a VG reader, I had come to expect hard-hitting news, and blunt truth, not yet another pandering “unity” speech about how hard working and truly “American at heart” these folks are. They are illegal. They have broken the law. They do not seek to be American, they seek benefits and a better life, and there is a very big difference. Shame on you for such poor reporting. I expected better here.

  • Katie says:

    Okay, well I’m actually quite pleased that some of you COMPLETELY disagree with me, because that’s the kind of civil discourse that makes this country great. I know my opinion on this issue is controversial but hey, if you don’t have enemies, it means you’ve never stood up for yourself. And, in my opinion, “good reporting” is exactly the kind of reporting that starts conversations like these. I’m a college student- I’m not claiming to be an expert in a million fields- but I’m claiming a valid opinion. And I think this is an opinion that can move us forward a great deal. I’m happy to substantiate my stance, it’s one I’m passionate about- and it’s one I hear echoed over and over from young conservatives that feel the party is out of touch on this important issue.

    To clarify and keep it classy, I didn’t call anyone racist or stupid- I said that this particular issue and the stance many conservatives take makes them LOOK racist and stupid even though I KNOW that they are just interested in protecting our economy and our country the same way I am. I don’t play the race card- I think as conservatives we can all agree we’ve moved beyond that- liberals will just have to play catch up.

    But moving on: I have not forgotten that undocumented immigrants have committed a crime and I completely agree that border security and a reformed and modernized system of LEGAL immigration must come first. That being said, we still have the problem of undocumented people in the country. It doesn’t make sense to deport. Obama has deported a record number of undocumented individuals in his term and the problem is worse than ever. Once we do make legal immigration a viable and workable option for people and we secure the border…I still have to say amnesty seems like a great option.

    They still have to go through a process, pay fines and learn English. It’s when immigrants are not able to become citizens that they do not assimilate…when they can’t assimilate, they do become a burden to the system. They also become vulnerable to human traffickers and to become involved in crime. Not to mention, they are not subject to the law and therefore are exploited and work for less, therefore taking jobs away from hard working citizens. Why don’t we give them a shot at citizenship and the tools they need to assimilate? Also, if we create a better legal immigration system that helps people immigrate based on skills…hopefully immigrants can make a life here and stop sending money back home.

    Lastly, the term illegal has got to stop. I know this seems like a small detail and I’m not usually so hung up on being PC (I obviously don’t have a problem offending people a tad- look at this post..?) but the calling the PERSON illegal or referring to people as “illegals” is very insulting. They committed an illegal act- no question. But let’s not lump them into a dehumanizing category?….sorry I may be “thinking with my emotions” here but I’m all about respecting people.

    I’m sorry this was a hurried and roughly composed response and I’m sure I left some points unaddressed, please continue to comment and ask questions! I would love to continue the conversation.

    oh and if you want to watch someone else who I think is convincing on this point (and will probably get you just as riled up as I just did) check out Jose Vargas, I met him personally when I group of fellow students raised the money to bring him as a guest speaker to campus- here’s the video:

    • Kate says:

      Katie thanks for taking the time to respond to those of us who utterly reject amnesty. I doubt you’ve swayed any of us from our position but I personally admire your boldness and enthusiasm. I’m also gonna hope you’ll eventually see things my way. 😉

  • Jen says:

    Katie, sorry, they are illegals. They came here and stayed here illegally, and they don’t give a rat’s patoot what you or I call them.

    Do you actually believe that the “hoops” set up to get this bill passed will actually be enforced once this bill passes? The day this passes, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi will immediately begin screaming about how unfair this is to these poor people and there will be continous bills brought up to give these new Democrats as fast a track as possible to being able to vote, The Democrat buses will be lined up to haul these new amnesty card holders to centers set up to get paperwork signed by the center’s Dem workers to speed the process, then Obama will issue an executive order(as he did with the “dreamers”, totally illegal but no one does anything about it) declaring that anyone who had documentation done at these locations(combined with signing them up for fully paid Obamacare and a voter registration) is now a citizen.

    Why bother having borders and immigration? Why not simply admit absolutely anyone who wants to come here(that way we could get rid of that awful word-illegal-)and just sign them up at a welcome center for benefits, housing, obamacare, EBT cards, and $500 gift card to Walmart?

    It’s so discouraging to have to fight not only the Dems, but dreamy eyed conservatives on this issue. It should be so clear, you violate our laws, you leave. Period. And take your anchor baby with you.

  • Jodi says:

    And here is why the Democrats, and many misguided Republicans, are pushing so-called reform (amnesty!) so hard. They know that it could mean a permanent Progressive federal government. That is their goal:

  • Becca says:

    So we should pass another law demanding that the President enforce the laws already in place?? How on earth does that make any sense?? The claim that Obama has deported record numbers of illegals is nothing but a gimmick. DHS changed the definition (dems sure love to do that) of a “removal”. It previously referred to removals made by ICE but they added to it those who are turned away at the border. If you think that the “border has never been more secure” also, I’ve got a piece of oceanfront property in Kentucky to sell ya!!

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