Early Monday morning, I was surprised to hear Arizona’s own Sen. John McCain talking about bipartisan legislation that would be brought before the Senate and the House to address the longstanding issue of illegal immigration in America.
Of course, at first, I thought it had to be a joke. McCain has been unwilling to support any major legislation that might fall in place with Democrats and President Barack Obama. However, in reality, McCain and some of his Republican partners have another agenda in mind as this moves forward.
McCain and Republicans are already looking at the 2016 presidential elections, and let’s face it, Democrats will win again if the GOP doesn’t start getting Latino voters on their side.
So, where do you start to make that happen? Illegal immigration is probably the most important issue.
“There is a new, I think, appreciation on both sides of the aisle - including maybe more importantly on the Republican side of the aisle - that we have to enact a comprehensive immigration reform bill,” McCain said on the interview circuit Sunday morning. “We are losing dramatically the Hispanic vote, which we think should be ours, for a variety of reasons, and we’ve got to understand that,” McCain told ABC’s “This Week.”
Newly-elected Arizona Senator Jeff Flake is also one of the Republicans working on this legislation that could pave a way for undocumented immigrants to become true U.S. citizens.
Opponents have already spoken up, this is a form of amnesty, and such an idea will likely have a hard time passing through the Republican-led House of Representatives.
As early details continue to be released, it appears the legislation would allow undocumented immigrants to seek legal status without first going home.
I have mixed feelings on this idea. First, I am glad to see that our lawmakers are working together on something important. I was beginning to believe that was not possible. However, at the same time, I have mixed feelings on the amnesty debate.
Part of me says they are here, find a way to make them legal and pay their own way. But, another part of me says they are here illegally, and there should be some kind of accountability for that.
When President Obama made the executive decision to allow young immigrants to stay here, I had mixed feelings then. While I agree their parents brought them here when they were young and didn’t know any better, these young adults learned right from wrong at some point, and at some point, had to realize they are here illegally and it’s wrong.
The legislation moving forward includes the following:
• A “tough but fair” path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already living in the United States, after bolstering the nation’s border security;
• Overhauling the country’s legal immigration system, including attaching green cards to advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, or math from U.S. universities;
• Establishing an employment verification system that holds employers accountable for hiring undocumented workers;
• Creating a guest worker program for positions that Americans are either unable or unwilling to fill.
As discussions move forward, it’s going to be interesting to see if this bipartisan measure will move forward and possibly pave the way for progress in other major issues facing our nation, such as gun control, or if it will fall flat once it enters the chamber of the always-feisty House of Representatives.
As an Arizona resident, I will say this, I am glad to see senators McCain and Flake taking part in the discussions.