House Republicans came eyeball to eyeball with sweeping immigration reform Tuesday, and they blinked.
No matter that a bipartisan group of senators, including Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a favorite of the Republican right, have endorsed a pathway to earned citizenship. In a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee, GOP members still could not reconcile themselves to the prospect that undocumented immigrants might one day become full-fledged Americans.
Instead, they groped for some probationary status — a legal limbo — into which 11 million people, many of whom have already lived in the United States for a decade or more, might be indefinitely slotted. Anything to avoid charting a course for what many Republicans regard as the dreaded amnesty.
It may be the case that many illegal immigrants would welcome some form of probation, even a lengthy one, which would certainly be an improvement on the status quo. But it makes no sense, nor is it morally right, for the United States to create a permanent underclass of workers, numbering in the millions, who have no prospect of citizenship even as we expect them to continue mowing our lawns, caring for our children, painting our houses and manning our processing plants — as many have done for a decade or more already. Yet that is essentially the “compromise” some House Republicans are now floating.
There is space for genuine compromise on the length of the road to citizenship and the requirements to navigate it.
But a plan that includes no prospect of citizenship, or a prospect so faint that it may be decades in the future, is no plan at all. Having given up the fantasy of mass deportation, House Republicans must take the next logical step by embracing a deal that’s both workable and just.
The Washington Post (Feb. 7)