Finally the time is right for immigration reform to come about. We have been ready for this for very long, pleading with lawmakers to hear the cries of their constituents and forge a compromise on this issue, and although the wait has been lengthy, it appears that the time has finally arrived. Eight senators have announced their proposals for an immigration law overhaul. The Senators who came up with this bipartisan blueprint include Democrats Dick Durbin of Illinois, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Charles Schumer of New York, and Michael Bennet of Colorado; Republicans Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Jeff Flake of Arizona, John McCain of Arizona, and Marco Rubio of Florida.
The group is calling it a “breakthrough” and it indeed is one considering that it was created by an equal amount of Democrats and Republicans. At the news conference, John McCain said that this bill would be “very difficult, but achievable.” Although Republicans were infamous for being notoriously resistant to any type of compromise, they are now reaching across the aisle and coming to terms with the fact that they need to incorporate immigrants into their agenda instead of excluding them and pretending they are not part of the country. At the news conference Senator McCain said, “I think everyone here agrees that it is not beneficial for our country to have [immigrants] here hidden in the shadows. Let’s create a system to bring them forward, allow them to settle their debt to society and fulfill the necessary requirements to become law-abiding citizens of this country.”
The fact that this is a bipartisan initiative is a definite advantage that is expected to make a difference at the time Congress votes for it. The hope is that the plan will be strongly supported in the Senate, yet Senator Graham warned that “if for some reason we fall in our efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform, I do believe it will be many years before anyone is willing to try and solve this problem.” We are fully aware of the fact that the opportunity at hand is unique since the past election has put immigrants in center stage, highlighting the importance of including them particularly because their support is definitely linked to campaign success given that their votes count and make a difference.
Because there are the lives of 11 million people at stake, all of whom have been forced to live in darkness with the possibility of deportation hanging over their heads, this topic needs to be discussed at length, with no hasty decision made. As Mitch McConnell put it, “this effort is too important to be written in a back room and sent to the floor with a take-it-or-leave it approach.” The plan includes a path to permanent residence and eventual citizenship, while also including measures to buffer up border security and speed up the citizenship process for young undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country by their parents when they were children. The plan also includes a system to keep track of those who come to the country with tourist, student and other temporary visas, as well as those who leave it.
While previous efforts to bring about comprehensive immigration legislation have failed, we have high spirits for this attempt, hoping it will be the grand finale that brings a solution to this longstanding problem our nation faces through securing the position of the many that make our nation possible.