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Editorial Pages Agree: Citizenship Provision Must Be Viable & Straightforward for Reform to Work

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It’s been a busy week on immigration, with President Obama delivering an immigration speech yesterday, following the unveiling of bipartisan Senate principles on Monday.  The nation’s leading editorial pages have been following this issue for years, and are weighing in with optimism that the stalemate in Washington may finally clear this year.  They are also near unanimous in insisting that the citizenship provision of any reform bill be viable and straightforward for reform to work.  Among the key editorials today:

  • La Opinión: In an editorial titled, “The Path to Citizenship,” the nation’s largest Spanish language daily newspaper today writes, “The path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who benefit from an immigration law is an essential principle for comprehensive reform. Not giving them a clear, concrete opportunity to become citizens is an insult to our history and a betrayal of our pride as a nation of immigrants….The United States cannot have millions of people working in the shadows, just like it cannot have them as second-class individuals with duties like paying taxes, as residents do, but without the benefits of residency.  A nation that prides itself on its immigrant origins must remain faithful to its history of embracing immigrant workers so they can give the best of themselves and be treated in a way that recognizes their efforts.  An immigration reform without a clear path to citizenship is a system that legalizes the exploitation of cheap labor. It is a reform that does not fulfill its mission.”
  • New York Times: Titled “A Better Immigration Plan,” the Times editorializes in favor of President Obama’s vision of reform, writing: “Given existing immigration backlogs and the possibility of other administrative hurdles being placed in the way, any future path to citizenship could be so long and burdensome as to be all but imaginary.  Mr. Obama, to his credit, made the citizenship path a central part of his plan and did not make it contingent on adding still more troops, border fencing and aerial drones…Mr. Obama said on Tuesday that if Congress gets bogged down, he will be ready to offer his own bill and ‘and insist that they vote on it right away.’  We hope that won’t be necessary and that Congress gets the message, adopts the best of his stated principles and keeps the process moving, on the rails, in the right direction.”
  • Washington Post: The Post editorial “Leading from Behind on Immigration” states, “As the White House holds its powder, Congress must grapple with some harsh realities.  If illegal immigrants are to gain traction on a path to citizenship, Congress must find a way to clear the nation’s current waiting list for permanent-resident visas, which now includes applicants who have been waiting for nearly 25 years.  It makes no sense to require illegal immigrants to wait at the back of a line that may exceed their life expectancy.  And while Republicans may reasonably insist on measures to tighten security at the border — which is already more secure than at any point in recent decades — they should not be allowed to use it as an excuse to further delay sweeping reform.”
  • Los Angeles Times: Titled “Immigration Reform, Now,” the Times editorializes, “meaningful reform must provide an opportunity for those undocumented immigrants already in the country to secure citizenship, and that route cannot be so tortuous or punitive that it defeats the goal.  Those who are illegally in the country ought to pay a penalty and be made to wait for a green card.  But the wait must not punish immigrants based on their country of origin or be so long that it discourages them from seeking citizenship… For once, all sides recognize that political advantage, economic opportunity and human decency demand comprehensive immigration reform.”
  • Boston Globe: The Globe editorial, titled “Immigration Reform: Encouraging Signs at Last,” notes that we need more details regarding the border triggers in the Senate framework, cautioning that “[i]t could end up giving veto power over the whole plan to local politicians like Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, whose career is based on her Draconian crackdown on illegal immigrants.  Without a clear promise of a path to citizenship, many illegal immigrants will refuse to come forward, undermining the whole process.  But the language of the Senate proposal is still quite vague — a sketch of agreed-upon points rather than an actual plan.  Now, the focus has to be on the details.  And the Senate deserves a chance to take the lead, as Obama vowed on Tuesday.  If the “gang of eight” senators who came forward earlier in the week fail to build upon their proposal, the White House can step in.  With so much already agreed upon, the fate of so many ¬¬people — and this nation’s economic competitiveness — should not come down to a game of dare.”

In addition, a number of editorial pages across the country have weighed in about the need for commonsense immigration reform, praising the leadership of the Senate bipartisan group and the President.  See editorials from the Miami Herald, Houston Chronicle, Arizona Republic, San Francisco Chronicle, and the Chicago Tribune, which captured the momentum behind immigration reform: “Americans support it.  Latino voters expect it.  Democrats want it.  Republicans need it.”

America’s Voice Education Fund — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform