Should Congress Move on Comprehensive Immigration Reform, or Travel Down a Bridge to Nowhere?
Washington, DC: In today’s Congress Daily, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) identified the key lesson both parties need to learn from the special election in Massachusetts this week: the American people sent policymakers to Washington to solve tough problems, not run from them. He blasted politicians who think the smartest strategy heading into the November mid-term elections is to avoid issues like immigration reform and said, “From my point of view, the real reason we’re all here is to govern the country and do hard things.”
“Is the message that Democrats shouldn’t take on anything controversial and is the message that [Republicans] should not work with them on anything controversial?” asked Graham, who has taken the lead as a Republican in crafting a comprehensive immigration bill with Senate Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee Chairman Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. “I hope that’s not the message. It’s not the message to me,” Graham added. “The message to me was people want you to do things in Washington; just do them openly, transparently and not run up the deficit and increase their taxes.”
The same article goes on to quote Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) explaining why the Massachusetts results do not mean the death of immigration reform, despite the declarations of some pundits who have been waiting to pronounce the issue dead for months. As Leahy pointed out: “There’s not going to be a Democratic or a Republican immigration bill. It’s got to be bipartisan.” Ironically, immigration reform is one of the few remaining issues that has a chance of garnering bipartisan support and moving forward this year, but only if both parties engage responsibly.
Meanwhile, a group of short-sighted members of the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a resolution demanding the status quo on immigration, abdicating their responsibility to lead the country forward with a practical solution to the broken immigration system. Introduced by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the Bipartisan Reform of Immigration through Defining Good Enforcement (BRIDGE) resolution demands that the federal government simply do more of what it’s doing already, with the hope that it will eventually work and the 12 million undocumented immigrants in our country will pick up and leave.
This “Bridge to Nowhere” offers no new ideas to reduce illegal immigration, and instead prohibits Congress from creating any sort of program that brings undocumented immigrants into legal status so that they are paying taxes and playing by the same rules as everyone else.
“What is the definition of insanity again? To continue the same failed strategies over and over again and hope that one day they will work? Well that’s what we’re seeing today with this Bridge to Nowhere immigration resolution,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice. “The American people are tired of leaders in Washington refusing to lead. That is the clear message from the Massachusetts special election, and it’s time for politicians in both parties to wake up.
“Despite conventional wisdom in Washington, immigration reform is one of the few issues that actually has a chance of advancing this year, because it’s in the interests of both parties to do so,” he continued. “Poll after poll has shown that the American people want a practical solution that will bring immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally into the tax system, punish bad employers who abuse workers, and help honest businesses grow. Advancing comprehensive immigration reform would show the American people that Democrats are ready to lead, and Republicans are willing to work responsibly on a solution that works for America. Advancing this Bridge to Nowhere resolution would simply keep the status quo in place, and is the kind of thing voters across the country are fed up with.”
A December 2009 poll from Benenson Strategy Group shows continued strong support for comprehensive immigration reform among voters, even in a down economy. Support for reform crosses party-lines, with two-thirds of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents choosing a comprehensive solution over mass deportation or temporary status for undocumented workers.
“Immigration reform is an issue where the American people are much more pragmatic than some politicians in Washington,” said Sharry. “Comprehensive immigration reform would reduce the deficit, increase wages, expand the tax base, and restore the rule of law. The longer Congress delays, the worse the problem becomes. It’s past time for Republicans and Democrats to come together and work on a real solution that will benefit all,” said Sharry.