Immigration Reform: If Not Now, When?

Last Saturday in Nevada, Senate majority leader and candidate for reelection Harry Reid told an ebullient crowd that the Senate Democrats and the President had not forgotten immigration reform. From the New York Times:

“We’re going to come back, we’re going to have comprehensive immigration reform now,” he said in a speech to more than 6,000 people, mostly immigrants, gathered downtown. “We need to do this this year,” Mr. Reid said, drawing cheers from the crowd, which included many Latinos. “We cannot wait.”

Advertisement

Reid, who is facing a tough reelection bid, said that with the Democrats’ plan, illegal immigrants would face “a penalty and a fine, people will have to work, stay out of trouble, pay taxes, learn English” en route to citizenship.

While Reid said himself that immigration reform is an urgent priority, it seems unlikely that Congress or the President will act anytime soon. There are still raw wounds from the recently signed health care reform law; the economy is recovering more slowly than anticipated; and now, conservatives are baring their teeth for a bloody battle over the next Supreme Court nominee (several weeks before they have any idea who the President will name to the court).

The timing may not seem ripe for the passage of comprehensive immigration reform, but when will it ever be? It is the right thing to do, and Senator Reid, the President and the Democratic Party should keep their promises to make this issue a priority in this congress. There are many legitimate points to be made in this debate on both sides, and the least that Congressional leadership can do is to begin that debate. Let’s begin the conversation, and move toward a more just and more humane system of immigration in this country.

Michael O'Loughlin

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
James Lindsay
8 years ago
Politically, even having the debate will be good for the Democrats, since the Tea Partiers will make it look ugly. Also, in the long term, immigration will change demographics in this country (even without reform) so that there will be no Republican Party in a decade, even in the South.

Even without the politics, this issue must be considered in the interests of justice - although I would go farther toward reform than the Democrats would. Immigration retrictions (and right to work laws) are what make undocumented immigrants so attractive to employers - since the threat of deportation leaves them cheap and docile. Take away that threat and let them join a closed shop and you will stop their recruitment much more effectively than any enforcement scheme ever would. This debate is so much a war between bad conservative policies that it would be amusing if not for the human cost born by those brought here illegally and some of the ugly racism apparent in the debate.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

A blockbuster exhibition profiles one of the 20th century's great bridge figures.
Rob Weinert-KendtApril 26, 2018
History records many great men and women who would have been set aside without the aid of someone able to see past their faults.
Terrance KleinApril 26, 2018
Patrick J. Conroy, S.J., seen here in June 2017, had been the chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives since 2011.  (CNS photo/Rhina Guidos)
Patrick Conroy, S.J., submitted his resignation earlier this month. The Hill reports that a prayer seen as critical of the Republican tax bill may have been a factor.
Speaking in Chicago to a gathering of U.S. priests, Archbishop Wilton Gregory addressed racism, sexism and a host of other societal challenges that "continue to hold us captive."