Opinion: Immigration Reform; now is the time

Jennifer Hutchinson is a freshman political science major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater.  Contact her at [email protected].

Jennifer Hutchinson

It’s no secret that immigration reform has been an issue in the United States for at least the past fifteen years. It seems, however, that the Republicans are ready to tackle the issue. On Thursday, the GOP revealed its immigration reform principles. They are critical to job and economic growth, as well as the safety and security of our nation. These proposals may just be a starting point, but Speaker of the House, John Boehner, was clear when he said, “I oppose the massive, flawed immigration reform bill passed by the Democratic-controlled Senate. I’ve been clear that the House will not take it up or engage in negotiations with the Senate on it.”

There are six main principles addressed in the new reform: “Border Security and Interior Enforcement Must Come First,” “Implement Entry-Exit Visa Tracking System,” “Employment Verification and Workplace Reinforcement,” “Reforms to the legal Immigration System,” “Youth” and “Individuals Living Outside the Rule of the Law.” The principles state they want the so-called Dreamers to be allowed “an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship.”

Unlike Democrats, the GOP does not want to give a “special path to citizenship.” The principles suggest that they “could live legally and without fear in the U.S. only if they were willing to admit their culpability, pass rigorous background checks, pay significant fines and back taxes, develop proficiency in English and American civics and be able to support themselves and their families [without access to public benefits].” They also want to limit family immigration, make employer-based and temporary work visas more flexible based on “economic needs of the country” and allow foreign-born students to remain in the U.S. more easily after attending college here.

While Republicans in Congress are hoping to enact some of these policies, they are skeptical about the support they will receive from Democrats. Rep. Raul Labrador stated, “If we can’t trust the president to fully enforce the laws of the United States now, when we don’t have immigration reform, why should we think he’ll do it then, considering there are certain aspects of the law he doesn’t like?” Boehner added, “These standards are as far as we are willing to go…Nancy Pelosi said yesterday that for her caucus, it is a special path to citizenship or nothing. If Democrats insist on that, then we are not going to get anywhere this year.”

The first word that comes to my mind with these new proposals is fairness. The GOP is trying to find a fair way to protect and provide opportunities to immigrants without jeopardizing the economy and security of our country.

They are not willing to go so far as to grant complete amnesty; nor should any party or persons expect them to. While these proposals are still new and open for discussions, they are some of the most comprehensive policies our country has seen in a while. If Democrats can’t jump on board with at least some of these principles, I don’t see immigration reform going anywhere anytime soon.