Miami Herald | EDITORIAL

The door opens a crack

 

OUR OPINION: President, House speaker must push hard for stalled immigration reform

HeraldEd@MiamiHerald.com

Maybe they want to appear decisive after some bipartisan poor performances. Perhaps they want to distract a disgusted electorate by exclaiming, “Look! Over there!”

Whatever.

When both President Obama and his nemesis, House Speaker John Boehner, push for an immigration law by year’s end, as they did in separate events last week, motive is irrelevant. This issue should have remained on Congress’ front burner until a comprehensive reform bill was passed and sent to the president’s desk. The Senate came through during the summer, passing a bill that remains the best chance yet to put undocumented immigrants on a path — though long and winding — to citizenship. It includes fines and tighter border security. It is a path, however, that the most vociferous, and short-sighted, opponents continue to block in the House, though their arguments are persuasive to a dwindling number of Americans.

There are 11 million undocumented immigrants shut out of living fully in freedom’s light. The human toll of uncertainty is matched by the economic costs of their unresolved status. Families remain at risk of being separated; denied health insurance, they turn to emergency rooms for expensive care we all pay for. And as recipients of Medicare and Social Security use up funds from these programs, Americans will need immigrant workers to replenish them.

On Tuesday, a mash-up of Republican Party activists, business executives and evangelical leaders are taking their case to Capitol Hill, where they hope to strong-arm members of the House GOP to pass their own legislation. Those recalcitrant lawmakers can’t fail to note that the coalition are the people who have been solidly in the GOP’s camp for decades. To spurn them now would make the GOP’s tent even smaller than it already is.

Given Mr. Obama’s and Mr. Boehner’s anemic power of persuasion these days, the likelihood of a comprehensive law by year’s end is a long shot. Yet neither of them can fail to be as vociferous and determined as immigration reform’s benighted opponents.

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