The comprehensive immigration reform plan proposed by a bipartisan group in the U.S. Senate is a game changer. Just over a week after President Barack Obama used his second inaugural address to gird the country for a partisan battle over immigration reform, it looks like a battle has been averted.
The four Democrats and four Republicans are expected to unveil the plan today. The Washington Post has the rough contours of the plan.
How did eight lawmakers on opposite sides of a controversial issue agree on broad outlines. Looks like they did it by prioritizing immigration reform tenets critical to both parties. Democrats have long wanted a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocmented people nationwide, but the GOP argue the first priority is to secure the nation’s borders to stop the influx of people entering the US illegally. This plan addresses both.
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Fines and back taxes must be paid by those seeking legal status. The balance helps Democrats made good on their promise of citizenship for undocumented immigrants and allows Republicans to refute any charge that they’re being soft on people who have broken the law.
Of course all of this has to be voted on by not just the Senate, but a contentious House that will not be easily corralled under either party tent. But today’s news signals momentum.
For President Obama, the momentum is overdue. Hispanic voters have been unhappy over the president’s failure to push through immigration reform. Yet they gave him another chance. Latinos voted for the president over Republican Mitt Romney by 71% to 27%, according to an analysis of exit polls by the Pew Hispanic Center, a Project of the Pew Research Center. Hispanic voter support for Obama is the highest seen by a Democratic candidate since 1996, when President Bill Clinton won 72% of the Hispanic vote.
Latinos are not the only voting bloc with a lot at stake in the immigration debate. As this column points out, Asians are part of a comprehensive view of immigration. The Dream Act, which would give young immigrants a path to citizenship, is one piece of the reform puzzle gaining support. President Obama enacted a smaller version of it last year. The widow of Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs, is the latest to call for swift passage of the Dream Act.
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