It’s time to complete immigration reform
Pressure is mounting for members of the U.S. House of Representatives to tackle immigration reform before election-year campaigns get into full swing and obliterate any hope of bipartisan cooperation on the matter.
President Barack Obama has been pushing to revise U.S. immigration laws and create a pathway to citizenship for some 11 million undocumented residents, but a bipartisan bill that passed the Democratic-controlled Senate nearly a year ago has been stalled in the Republican-controlled House.
Some Republican strategists are worried that failure to take up immigration legislation will result in Latino voters tilting toward the Democratic presidential nominee in 2016. Unfortunately, the legislation’s passage hinges on political implications rather than the merits of fixing a system that members of both parties agree is broken.
We have lamented the gridlock that has plagued the issue since the Bush administration and have pressed federal lawmakers to devise a sensible plan for dealing with illegal immigrants already living here, as well as foreigners whose job skills are needed here.
We were cautiously optimistic after U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and others in the “Gang of Eight” pushed an immigration reform bill through the Senate last June. But the window of opportunity is quickly closing, and we join other Colorado voices in sounding the call for action.
The Colorado Forum, a nonpartisan coalition of business and civic leaders statewide, is pressing all seven members of Colorado’s delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives to bring immigration reform legislation to the floor for a vote before the summer recess.
In an open letter to Colorado congressmen, the forum notes that immigration reform will grow the U.S. gross domestic product by 3.4 percent in 10 years ($700 billion by 2023 in today’s dollars) and 5.4 percent in 20 years ($1.4 trillion), according to the Congressional Budget Office and other independent analyses.
“Since this country’s founding, immigration has been integral to America’s economic growth, driving productivity, stimulating consumer spending, rewarding entrepreneurship and adding fuel to America’s economic engine,” the letter states.
Economic stimulus is perhaps the most pragmatic reason to support immigration reform. Indeed, many growers in this region are eager for the stability reforms would provide to their operations and their workers. But for some Republicans, border security comes first. So, a reform package with any hope of passage will have to provide both opportunities for citizenship and beefed-up border security measures.
It’s a complex issue. It will take political courage on both sides of the aisle to craft meaningful reform. Hopefully, the House can follow the Senate’s lead and deliver a practical, comprehensive immigration policy that will set a productive course for America for generations to come.