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Our view: Law reform picks up traction

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: March 2, 2013 6:48AM



After years of going nowhere, immigration reform has shot to the top of the Washington agenda.

Finally, there is a serious chance Congress — Democrats and Republicans alike — will agree on a realistic path to citizenship for some 11 million illegal immigrants and make a practical plan to secure the nation’s southern border.

A bipartisan group of eight senators has outlined a plan that combines a path to citizenship — the Democrats’ first priority — with securing the border against future illegal immigration — the Republicans’ priority. That each side is willing to accept the other’s precondition is a big step toward doing a deal.

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama hailed the senators’ interest in overhauling the nation’s immigration laws and laid out his goals for immigration reform.

The senators’ plan mirrors one that went nowhere in 2007, but the politics have changed. Obama won re-election with 71 percent of the Latino vote, compared with 27 percent for Mitt Romney. GOP leaders fear their party can’t survive without Latino support.

The sad stories under our current system stretch to every corner of the country. Mistreated workers are afraid to complain for fear of deportation. Families are torn apart when a parent is picked up for a minor infraction and deported. Children grow up knowing no other country but the United States, but still are denied citizenship.

The senators’ bipartisan plan begs many questions. How long would immigrants have to wait to become citizens? How can low-wage guest workers be invited into the country without antagonizing unions? Would a national identity card be necessary? Do we really want drones patrolling our borders, as the senators envision?

These are big questions that require creative and interdependent solutions. Fortunately, the bipartisan working group agrees immigration reform must be comprehensive, not piecemeal.

Somewhere in all these stirrings is true and bipartisan immigration reform.

Sun-Times Media



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