The time is now

That fact that a bipartisan group of senators has come up with a starting point for immigration law reform is nothing short of amazing. The last truly significant immigration reform in this country was the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which gave amnesty to a certain class of immigrants, but seemed to be based on the idea that illegal immigration was over. It was nothing like a sustainable solution.

The so-called “Gang of 8” senators pushing the “Bipartisan Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform” are Republicans John McCain, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake, and Democrats Robert Menendez, Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin and Michael Bennet. While details have yet to be worked out, it seems to bear passing resemblance to the DREAM Act and the immigration bills that came so close to law in 2006. But something happened last year that may have made immigration reform palatable to conservatives: The 2012 election, when minorities flexed their smallest muscles and changed the course of history.

To be honest, none of us nonpartisans give a damn who gets the credit if this reform passes. In the long run, it will be engraved in the history books as another Obama administrative triumph.

Let’s not drag on about it, though. The Republican Party’s changing ulterior motives are irrelevant next to the need for this reform. And before anyone thinks the Democrats were truly working toward this, remember who scuttled the 2006 immigration reform. Anyway, this proposal is easy, short reading, long on principles, short on details, but it is so much better than nothing, it might as well have been handed down on Mount Sinai. Here it is:

Its four main ideas are these:

* Create a tough but fair path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants currently living in the United States that is contingent upon securing our borders and tracking whether legal immigrants have left the country when required;

* Reform our legal immigration system to better recognize the importance of characteristics that will help build the American economy and strengthen American families;

* Create an effective employment verification system that will prevent identity theft and end the hiring of future unauthorized workers; and,

* Establish an improved process for admitting future workers to serve our nation’s workforce needs, while simultaneously protecting all workers.

Each of those “pillars” has further bullet-point details, and some—like English language requirements—are disgusting, but again, a five-page document is not a law. To get this one past the House of Representatives will require a Herculean effort on the part of concerned Americans—all of us. And not to read too much into it, but it seems fairly obvious that there’s a reason this is coming up right now: Representatives who block this reform will be facing the voters in less than two years.

The efforts in favor of and against this legislation will be watched closely by all Americans. It’ll be surprising if the haters can successfully thwart immigration reform and still keep their jobs in Washington, D.C., in 2015.

C’mon people. Get on the right side of history. The time for hatred, ignorance and self-mutilation is over. The time for immigration reform is now.