Our view: Political winds align for reform
November 26, 2012 3:42PM
THE FIRST AMENDMENT
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Updated: December 28, 2012 6:13AM
Let’s see if the Republican Party can say, “Si, se puede.” Or, to translate, “Yes, we can.”
For decades, the Republican Party has said “No, we won’t” to any realistic and compassionate solution to the problem of 11 million people living in our country illegally. The GOP has ridiculed any suggestion that these folks, who are mostly from Mexico, should be granted amnesty or offered a path to citizenship. The GOP’s only Spanish has been “Hasta la vista, baby.”
But in the aftermath of President Barack Obama’s re-election, made possible in part by lopsided support from Latino voters, the Republican Party may be getting religion on immigration reform. It’s either that — support reform as the essential first step in wooing Latino voters — or the GOP can kiss the White House goodbye for a generation.
A convergence of self-interest, not only on the part of soul-searching Republicans, is shaping up to make comprehensive immigration reform politically feasible in the coming year. Agricultural employers seeking legal farm workers are on board. Technology companies seeking visas for high-skilled immigrants are on board. Local police departments, who would rather be fighting real crime, are signing on.
But best of all, conservatives are warming to the idea. A few days after Obama’s re-election, House Speaker John Boehner said it’s time to work out a “comprehensive approach” to immigration and solve the problem “once and for all.”
Let’s hope President Obama heeds the advice of Speaker Boehner and strikes while the iron is hot, putting forth a comprehensive plan to secure our nation’s borders while offering legal status — and a real chance of citizenship — to some 11 million undocumented workers, students and children.
As he did with health-care reform, Obama can make history and burnish his legacy by taking the lead in pushing through far-reaching and lasting immigration reform. And this time around, he and the Democrats need not necessarily do the job alone.