As the legislative debate around immigration percolates, the issue of what constitutes real reform is at the heart of the discussion.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund:
Real immigration reform means putting 11 million undocumented immigrants on the road to full citizenship. We will continue to fight for it until we win it, and victory is a matter of when, not if. What this means for the Republican Party is that the only way they can share credit on immigration reform and regain their competitiveness with Latino voters is to rip the Band-Aid off now – and support a path to citizenship for the 11 million Americans-in-waiting in this Congress.
While some in the GOP seem to be suggesting that the best approach is to offer status without citizenship for some number of undocumented immigrants, another group of Republican and conservative leaders have expressed their support for passing immigration reform with a path to citizenship. These include GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham (SC) and Rand Paul, as well as conservative Fox News television and radio host, Sean Hannity. Yesterday, others on the right side of the aisle seem to be lining up for full reform, with full citizenship:
- Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), a longtime supporter for comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship, told the Los Angeles Times, “Piecemeal parts are better than nothing but [don’t] solve the overall problem.”
- Jon Huntsman, former Utah Governor and Republican presidential contender, shared “his vision for the Republican Party going forward” in an interview with Sam Stein of the Huffington Post. Writes Stein: “He called for neo-conservatism to be sidelined, for states’ rights on issues like gay marriage to be respected, for comprehensive immigration reform to be pursued.”
- Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post’s conservative political blogger, writes, “this is one issue in which starting small may be an error. ‘Comprehensive’ immigration reform got a bad name when last it went down the drain in 2007. But arguably the GOP and certainly the country has changed since then. If you are going to go to the trouble of devising a proposal and take on the anti-immigration forces to jump-start the process, it makes sense to go bold. The 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States should be addressed in a GOP plan, understanding that one always wants to leave a little room for bargaining. But to try to sidestep that issue while border security, worksite enforcement, H1-B visas and other discrete issues are addressed is not realistic….Republicans did nothing on health care for years at the national level. This allowed the Democrats to make it their issue and eventually gave us the abomination known as Obamacare. Immigration, if left to Democrats, will either become their issue permanently and a policy nightmare or, alternatively, an opportunity for conservative reformers to show they can govern effectively and realistically while hewing to conservative principles. All the GOP needs are real leaders to step up to the plate.”
The Republican Party has a huge decision to make – they can be the obstacle to reform or they can be part of the solution. How they decide will determine their future as a national party. If they think they can solve their problem by supporting proposals that offer less than full citizenship to the 11 million undocumented Americans currently settled in America, they will find themselves with a lot of explainin’ to do. Taking the position that Latino immigrants are only good enough for a second-class non-citizenship status is no way to get right with the growing Latino population.
For a full compilation of Republican and conservative movement leaders calling for immigration reform, click here: http://act.americasvoiceonline.org/GOPSupport