If We Are Going to Have a Debate on Immigration Policy, Let’s Move from Gotcha Politics to Real Solutions
While the Donald heads to the border today, the Trump Effect is on display in Washington. The GOP is following Donald Trump’s lead by staging votes on piecemeal anti-immigrant measures in Congress while blocking a comprehensive solution to our nation’s dysfunctional immigration system.
The House of Representatives is set to vote today on a measure that would crack down on cities that have community policing strategies that are designed by local law enforcement to build trust and keep local communities safe. Not only is it audacious that Washington Republicans think they know better than local law enforcement how to fashion and implement successful community policing strategies, it is remarkable that GOP is tying itself to Trump’s anti-Latino, anti-immigrant rants.
The anti-immigrant wing of the GOP, which exercised a veto against immigration reform in the last Congress, continues to receive the green light from Republican leaders for votes such as today’s. These same leaders refused to allow a vote on a comprehensive overhaul package last Congress – a solution favored by three quarters of the American people – even though the votes were there. House leadership has even promised Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and others additional votes this year on enforcement-only measures aimed at maximizing deportations of all undocumented immigrants.
If the Republican Party wants to have a debate on immigration policy, let’s do it. The country is ready for real reform even if Republicans in Congress are not. And if the GOP continues to pander to a minority within its own party it will find itself on the wrong side of electoral majorities in 2016 and beyond.
A comprehensive approach combines smart enforcement at the border and inside the country, a path to legal status and citizenship for most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in America, and improvements to our legal immigration system. This will ensure that undocumented immigrants come forward, pass background checks and become known to the government, which will, in turn, transform a chaotic status quo into a regulated, orderly system. The vast majority of immigrants will be here legally, those admitted will enter legally, and the trust between immigrants and police in communities will be greatly enhanced. Immigrants will get into the system and onto the books so that law enforcement can isolate criminals, not immigrant communities. It will greatly reduce the haystack of undocumented immigrants and help expose the needles – the serious criminals – that should be the top priority.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “The country wants real solutions, but the Republican Party wants to play gotcha politics. Donald Trump will be at the border spouting distortions and lies, and House Republicans will be voting for yet another piecemeal measure to make life miserable for immigrants. Republican leaders have allowed, and indeed encouraged, this spasm of xenophobia. This may feel good now, but it can’t be good for the GOP future.”