Hope and Reform
Nowadays, political victories are rare in Washington D.C. Looking down the road—when taxes will inevitably rise and social security checks will inevitably shrink—political victories will be even harder to come by. Even more rare today are political solutions that appear not as a zero-sum game—that is, one party’s victory is the other party’s defeat. Being debated currently, however, is one issue that could turn out as a victory for all those involved: immigration reform.
The bill of which I speak is currently being spearheaded by a bipartisan group of eight senators. The potential legislation would provide an ultimate path to citizenship to illegal immigrants while levying some punitive measures, pursued by Republicans, for those currently in the United States illegally. The bill would streamline the citizenship process. Further, the bill would greatly expand the number of visas given to skilled foreigners. All in all, the bipartisan plan being debated in the Senate currently promises the immigration reform that the United States so desperately needs.
Perhaps more than many other issues at hand, immigration reform promises significant change to American politics. Who wins? First, President Obama stands to gain enormously. A successful immigration package would finally let the president cash in on 2008 and 2012 campaign promises.
At face value, it is perhaps Republicans who stand to gain most, politically, from immigration reform. Having managed to accrue only 30% of the Latino vote in the 2012 presidential election, Republicans have hopefully since realized that the party needs a new immigration platform. Whoever the Republican presidential nominee in 2016 turns out to be, he or she would be given a significant bump to be at the head of a modernized, reform-minded Republican party.
Immigration reform could crush one pillar of the extreme Republican right, which in the 2011-2012 primary season so defiantly defeated competitive, centrist candidates such as Jon Huntsman. Oh if the Michelle Bachmanns, the Rick Santorums, and the Newt Gingrichs of 2012 would be replaced by the Jon Huntsmans and the Marco Rubios of 2016! Immigration reform could save the Republican Party by bringing it closer to the political center, thereby reinvigorating American politics with a fresh new breadth of pragmatism.
Certainly, the American people and the millions currently in the United States vying for citizenship stand to gain from comprehensive immigration reform. I hate to beat a dead horse but its undeniable that immigration has long been a path to renewal and growth in the American narrative. More concretely, the prospect of immigration reform will spur numerous concrete changes that will improve the lives of Americans.
What perhaps may not be realized is that a comprehensive immigration bill could be just the political antidote to the current state of affairs in Washington politics. Whereas recent solutions to the problems ailing our country have been solved with temporary fix-its and forced solutions à la the sequester, the current Senate plan could set a new precedent of bipartisan, comprehensive reforms to our country’s ills. No brinksmanship, no congressional commissions, and no detours—immigration reform as one grand compromise could enliven congressional cooperation and serve to bridge a centrist bloc within an overly fractured and recalcitrant congress. Further, the prospect of a modernized Republican Party could likewise force Democratic Party changes, bringing both parties in a race to the center—a shift I think our political system needs more than anything.
Immigration reform is a win-win-win, for all those involved. President Obama and the bipartisan Senate solution just may deliver our country to a comprehensive solution to immigration and eventually even more.