A case for reform

The GOP-led House should follow U.S. Senate’s bipartisan effort on immigration reform

We never thought we’d say this, but former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.) got it right. In the op-ed in Sunday’s Wall Street Journal, Bush and Clint Bolick, vice president for litigation at conservative policy-advocacy organization the Goldwater Institute, make their case to intractable House Republicans on the merits of the landmark federal immigration bill passed last week by the U.S. Senate.

The bill isn’t perfect, for a number of reasons, including its overzealous border-patrol plan. But it is a step in the right direction to reform a broken system.

From an economic standpoint, Bush and Bolick point out the benefits of the bill, which would give a larger share of visas to immigrants with special skills needed in the U.S. workforce, rather than the current family-reunification preference.

Bolick and Bush argue that the bill supports Republican ideals. It would help grow the nation economically, curb illegal immigration and help secure the border, they write. They point to nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projections that the bill would result in a more than $1 trillion reduction of the federal budget deficit over the next 20 years.

Most important to us, the bill would provide an opportunity to the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants, many of whom came here as children and live and work in the United States in fear of deportation, to gain citizenship. It provides them with a path to legalization, but not without a rigorous process that includes paying fines and back taxes, and undergoing a background check. These individuals would be ineligible for most social services during a 13-year probation period (far too long in our view), but that’s the compromise Senate Republicans—14 altogether, including John McCain of Arizona—came up with to pass the bill.

The House must put partisan loyalties aside and stop using these people as scapegoats. They are a part of the American fabric. And it’s high time they become Americans.