Congress returns from its summer recess with no plans to tackle the issue of immigration reform. Late last year, the House of Representatives passed a draconian immigration enforcement bill that would erect fences along the U.S.-Mexico border and make illegal immigration a felony. In May, the Senate followed with a compromise bill that includes tougher borders and workplace enforcement and would provide many of the undocumented immigrants currently in the country with a path to earned legalization, by requiring them to learn English, pass criminal and terrorist background checks, and pay back taxes and fines.
Instead of trying to grapple with the differences between the two approaches so Congress could act on this pressing issue upon its return, House conservatives hit the road to hold alarmist and one-sided hearings on the issue around the country during August. Now that Congress is back is session, these same politicians are eager to exploit the issue for partisan gain on the campaign trail rather than enact serious reform.
While Congress remains paralyzed, the American people continue to express their desire for comprehensive reform. In Texas and Florida, thousands of immigrants defended their right to be in the country and earn an honest living. More immigrant rights marches across the country are planned for this month in Washington, D.C, Dallas, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
Congress needs to take heed of these marches. Comprehensive immigration reform can only pass Congress before the end of the term if restrictionists in the House abandon their nativist, electorally-motivated pandering approach and embrace the compromise legislation already crafted in the Senate. Immigration is an issue that is not new to the former-border state President. He needs to urge Congress to cooperate. Stop the politics; the time to act on this important issue is now.
To read more about the Center’s views on immigration, read: