April 30, 2010

HUMAN RIGHTS ARE TOO IMPORTANT TO LET THE HOUSE GOP HOLD THEM HOSTAGE:

The Immigration Impasse: The GOP is being tugged toward nativism as its coalition grows more monochromatic. (Ronald Brownstein, 5/01/10, National Journal)

As another political firefight erupts over illegal immigration, it's easy to forget how recently a bipartisan solution to the incendiary dilemma appeared within reach.

Just four years ago, 62 U.S. senators, including 23 Republicans, voted for a comprehensive immigration reform bill that included a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens. That bill was co-authored by Arizona Republican John McCain and Massachusetts Democrat Edward Kennedy. President Bush strongly supported it. The Republican supporters also included such conservative senators as Sam Brownback of Kansas and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. The 39 Democratic supporters included a freshman senator from Illinois named Barack Obama.

Reform advocates suspect that Graham is withdrawing from the immigration effort partly to avoid embarrassing his close ally McCain.

That bill offered a three-step approach to reform that remains the most plausible template for consensus. It would have toughened enforcement of immigration laws, devoting additional resources to guarding the border and policing employers who hire undocumented workers. It established a guest-worker program to regulate the flow of immigrant labor. (Under an Obama amendment, that guest-worker program would be suspended whenever unemployment reached 9 percent.) And it provided a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who pass a background check, pay a fine, and learn English.

The bill attracted substantial support from business, religious, and civil-rights groups. The measure almost certainly could have attracted the necessary 218 votes to pass the House. But it died when House GOP leaders refused to bring it to a vote because they concluded that it lacked majority support among House Republicans.

Since 2006, Republican support for comprehensive action has unraveled.


It requires presidential action.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 30, 2010 5:55 AM
blog comments powered by Disqus
« ONCE THOSE OVERSTEPS ARE STRUCK DOWN...: | Main | GOOD-BYE EURO: »