THE U.S. House of Representatives should return from its Fourth of July break ready to get to work on immigration reform. Start with — do not squander — the hard work of the U.S. Senate in crafting truly bipartisan immigration reform.
Last week, the Senate voted 68-32 for a comprehensive-reform package. The vote was a rare, impressive bipartisan effort that ought to set the stage for deliberations in the lower chamber.
Instead, Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, insists the House will come up with its own version on its own timeline. Sounds like the rhetoric of someone who’s in no rush to fix a condition that for too long has plagued workers, employers and our economy.
Remember how Latinos overwhelmingly supported Democrats during the 2012 elections? Afterward, U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., called on the GOP to “modernize” and be more inclusive of minorities. Now is her party’s chance to do something substantive, and it’s stalling.
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McMorris Rodgers represents a state heavily reliant on immigrant workers to maintain a competitive edge in the agriculture and high-tech sectors. As the fourth highest-ranking House leader, she should remind her caucus: country first, party second.
Some politicians might be too caught up in their own self-interests to take timely action. The Wall Street Journal reports only 38 of 234 House Republicans nationwide represent districts where Latinos represent 20 percent or more of the population. Those representatives have nothing to lose by stalling.
Meanwhile, nearly 11 million people are living and working in the shadows. They need a path to citizenship.
The Senate’s framework does not open the floodgates. It creates a 13-year waiting period during which applicants could earn “provisional legal status” if they pay fees, settle back taxes and undergo background checks. A proposed $40 billion allocation for border security is overkill, but right now it is the only way to move forward efforts to overhaul the system.
U.S. House members don’t have to start over. Nor should they introduce separate pieces of legislation.
They should first consider the Senate’s hard-fought bipartisan plan.