Passing the House

Friday, 12 April 2013 21:59

It is easy to imagine a bill that solves past and future inequities of our immigration system. It is a lot harder to imagine a bill that solves those inequities, AND that can pass the Republican controlled House of Representatives.


Recently, Senator Marco Rubio was criticized for asking the Senate to go slowly in its deliberations on Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR), and insisting that the bill include a guest worker program, a slow process for earned residency that can lead eventually to citizenship, as well as calling for expansion of the visa program for knowledge workers. Why is he doing this? He favors immigration reform but Senator Rubio also understands the math. To pass the House, the bill must gain the votes of forty or so Republicans. Support of past immigration bills and the ire raised by the “Vocal Right” have ended the careers of many moderate Republicans, including former Minority Whip David Dreier. To gain votes a bill has to have weasel words and equivocations. It also has to have teasers, and benefits for agriculture and technology companies.

The idealism of the perfect solution to our immigration mess has to be set aside and replaced by the politics of the possible. It is easy to forget that the optimism of 2005 was followed by the defeat of CIR in 2006 because ideologues on both sides kept the sensible middle from finding a compromise. Senator Rubio is right: Go slowly and find the sweet spot.