The Pathway to Citizenship

Wednesday, 13 February 2013 18:24

There is a fuss going up on the pro-immigrant side contending that the immigration reform legislation currently in the Senate should not include a stipulation that the border be secure before “pathway to citizenship” measures are enacted. They state, correctly, that it is wrong to link security with a pathway to citizenship. Here is a link to the article.

To this I say two things.

One: Great news; we have won the big argument. The current argument is about how to measure, certify, and enforce border security. This means that the anti-immigrant forces have in large part conceded that the law-biding, hardworking undocumented who are already here can stay. In other words, the battle is won and now we are arguing about the peace treaty.

Two: “Border security before a pathway to citizenship” is the fig leaf that moderate Republicans need in order to justify their vote for legislation that includes a pathway. To my friends on the pro immigrant side, I say, “don't worry; this is not a trap.” The devil is in the details. Concede to the moderates on this point in order to win at the drafting table. Just be certain that the body empowered to certify the security issue has leeway to make intelligent, rational judgment calls, and is balanced in our favor. One example of this would be to allow metering the undocumented onto the pathway. That is, in the first year the pathway would be open only to people who can show that they were here before 2000. This is only one example of how to ensure security, grant a fair and manageable pathway to those who are already contributing to our common and economic life, while at the same time allowing for review and adjustment of the process as it evolves.

Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the better.