Legislation requires consensus, or should anyway, and we still don’t have it. Odds for sensible immigration reform in the USA near term remain decent, yet certifiably longer than they were following passage of the Senate bill in June. To blame: ongoing debt battles, a government shutdown and pillowfights over the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare.
President Obama declares immigration reform is his top priority, and surely it is. The 113th Congress is in session. Fall is in the air, amber leaves, wool sweaters, promises of sitting down to turkey after making peace with our neighbors. Here we go. . . the latest proposition emerges from Rep. Darrell Issa’s office in the House of Representatives. Darrell, a Republican, represents a relatively conservative and affluent district, the San Diego north coast. I personally met with the congressman in his office over the status of immigration law during an AILA lobby day ten years ago. At any rate (he mostly ignored me), Mr. Issa plans to introduce a bill that would allow a time-limited legal status – six years – to undocumented persons in the country to advance their eligibility to permanently and lawfully immigrate.
It remains to be seen how such a rejigger would be administratively operated and funded. The transition gateways, immigration courts, are already jam-packed. The legislation would presumably provide a pathway forward for EWIs (those who enter-without-inspection, i.e., border-crossers) who can demonstrate qualifying eligibility without inadmissibility problems. It would likely also provide less waivers and more trapdoors, and incorporate numerical triggers tied to noxious border security measures, thus engendering familiar opposition. The legal window would become six years for millions, more likely eight-to-ten given processing delays. In other words, the theater of conflict remains very large, and claims of amnesty will persist.
I applaud Rep. Issa for running into the middle of the battlefield and planting a small flag in this pitched battle. There are few willing generals in sight. He took the opportunity following a government shutdown (er, slowdown) that essentially separated the squabbling partisans. A few diplomats cut a deal, and here we are again, with 90 days to reach consensus on major national legislation before history repeats itself: another shutdown, no legislative achievements, unyielding gridlock. On it’s face, Issa’s proposal is not a bad half-measure.
As the fools rush in once again, may orderly deliberation and navigation ensue on this essential remodel of the American house. As painful as delivery can be, time to give birth to the carbon graphite baby.
Illustrative metaphors brought to you by a strong cup of coffee. Come back for additional insight as events unfold in this ongoing saga. ~FRW