Today, we begin bringing you editorials from around the country on immigration reform. The first is from the Denver Post:
The volume on the immigration reform debate in Washington, D.C., has increased significantly in recent days and we don’t like everything we’re hearing.
Republicans, attempting to strike first on the immigration front, are talking about reform measures and approaches that are less than desirable at best, and just plain wrong at worst.
Feeling the sting of rejection by Hispanics at the polls, they’ve offered an expansion of visas for foreign-born college graduates with science and math degrees, which is good and necessary.
But the GOP bill would have those visas come at the expense of another program that offers visas via lottery to people from poor nations who have few other options for legal immigration to the United States. It shouldn’t have to be a trade-off.
Similarly, the GOP version of the DREAM Act allows for legal status for young people brought to the U.S. illegally if they are going to college or enlisting in the military. But it doesn’t provide a path to citizenship, which is a major defect.
Beyond the flaws of both proposals, the ideas are more properly part of a broad effort to address immigration.
The nine principles for immigration reform released by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus last week mark a thoughtful starting point for discussion about how to craft such a measure.
It says illegal immigrants ought to register with the federal government, undergo a criminal background check and learn English. They should pay all taxes and be in a position to earn permanent residency and eventually citizenship.
It makes keeping families together a priority. It includes a guest-worker program, accommodates bright foreign students in math and sciences, and endorses border security and employer verification efforts.
Taking on immigration issues one by one, as some in the GOP have suggested, leaves open the possibility of half-baked reform. It could easily result in conflicting policies and holes in the broader logic of how the United States grants citizenship, admits guest workers and deals with some 11 million people living here without legal status.
Furthermore, recent election results showed support for President Obama’s agenda, which includes a comprehensive approach to immigration reform. As we said shortly after the election, we are glad to see it.
That being said, we do not dismiss concerns that such reform will be difficult, and will be opposed by those who might like one part of a broad package and dislike others.
However, that shouldn’t be an excuse for avoiding the most logical approach, which is to ensure our nation has policies at the federal level that make sense across the board.
The time for comprehensive immigration reform is now. Federal lawmakers need to take it on no matter how difficult and messy the prospect may seem.