A bipartisan group of leading senators announce that they have reached agreement on the principles of sweeping legislation to rewrite the nation's immigration laws, during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. From left are Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. The deal covers border security, guest workers and employer verification, as well as a path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants already in this country. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)AP2013
“Hope springs eternal,” so the saying goes. I believe then that our country’s elected leaders will come to a consensus on the very complex issue of immigration this year.
Just yesterday, six U.S. senators—three Republicans and three Democrats—who make up the bipartisan group that has been laboring behind the scenes on the issue of immigration reform for the last few months, held a press conference in the Senate press conference room to present their long-awaited guiding principles for immigration reform. This was not legislative language. Instead, it was just the first step toward agreement on what the tenets ought to be.
As I understand it, on Tuesday President Obama will take a whole day to fly to Las Vegas at a cost of $1.6 million to basically do the same thing—present his almost five-year-late guiding principles. Not a plan, not legislative language, but just what ought to be included on an immigration-reform package that he would sign. I will give him a pass on the expenditure, on the politics and even on the photo opportunity, if in fact this trip truly leads to a real solution.
I am thrilled a lot of people are talking about the need to fix our very broken immigration system. I will give a shout to the former Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, who will be unveiling his book on immigration reform on March 6. Throughout his distinguished public service career he has shown a unique understanding of the immigrant community, especially the Hispanic community, and has championed the need to treat us with respect. His strong voice will most likely provide political cover to some Republican-elected officials who have been less than amicable.
It is indeed a welcome development that almost 70 percent of Americans believe that something has to be done to fix our immigration system and, even more importantly, they believe that those 11 or 12 million people who are here without their proper documents, should be legalized one way or another and be provided some kind of path to citizenship.
Nothing is more important to our elected officials than pleasing their constituencies. This bodes well for them. They will be acting on something America believes is important; it gives them the coverage to do what is right. Now I am not a Pollyanna—it won’t be easy and, for sure, there will be dissenting voices from both the left and the right.
It has been said that it is preferable to watch the process of making sausages than watch the legislative process. This issue in particular will incite some very powerful discussions; there will be strong disagreements and it will even drain friendships, as it has in past attempts. But our nation can no longer afford to continue without reform.
The security and prosperity of our nation cannot wait forever. However twisted, steep and even dangerous the path is to reach immigration reform; it is a path we must travel. As Governor Bush said, “it is time to seize the moment.”
Rosario Marin served as the 41st US Treasurer under President George W. Bush. She is the author of "Leading Between Two Worlds Lessons" from the first Mexican-born Treasurer of the United States.