2013 was supposed to be the year America finally saw comprehensive immigration reform. The American people gathered behind it, the President called it a “top priority” and the Senate passed their own bill just halfway through the year. But 2013 did not live up to everyone’s expectations, thanks in no small part to a long, drawn out process led by a powerful group of House Republicans. As we look to a new year, however, public opinion is radically shifting and House Republicans may find themselves unable to make excuses any longer.
According to a recent Pew Research survey, a 5 to 3 margin of Hispanics are now saying it is more important for unauthorized immigrants to be able to live and work in the US without fear of deportation than it is to get them on a path to citizenship. Seeing as the path to citizenship has been one of the most contested sections of the Senate’s June bill, the ability to circumvent that issue could be grounds for a serious compromise on both sides of the aisle. Moreover, with nearly 400,000 people deported annually since Obama took office, relief from deportations would go a long way towards alleviating the widespread pain brought on by a broken immigration system.
Compromise is never easy, and there is no telling just yet how the House Republicans (and even the House Democrats) will take to this idea. On the one hand, politicians need to come to terms with the fact that unauthorized immigrants are deeply ingrained in the fabric of America’s economy and communities. While on the other hand, many will be quick to point out that offering unauthorized immigrants only some rights could create a “caste” of second class citizens: people who can work and stay, but cannot vote or take advantage of the same privileges as full-fledged citizens.
So does a shifting public opinion mean House Republicans are finally running out of excuses for putting off immigration reform? Yes and no. While compromise of this sort would put a lot of pressure on House Republicans to quit making excuses, it would also anger politicians on both sides of the aisle. Some complaining it goes to far, and others claiming it doesn’t go far enough. Whatever the case, though, time is short for action. For with mid-term elections quickly coming up, immigration reform groups only have a few months left to put pressure on House Republicans for a long overdue immigration reform. And no one wants a repeat of 2013.
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