Fixing Immigration, in Principle
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD, JAN. 30, 2014
What you need to know now that House Republican leaders have unveiled a list of “principles” that have raised hopes for a breakthrough on immigration reform this year:
Principles are no substitute for actual legislation, and we’re still a great distance from a deal. Repairing a system so huge and so broken is a big undertaking for any Congress, much less this dismally dysfunctional one. The Republicans’ grab bag of ideas still leaves Democrats nothing to negotiate with.
That said, the list’s release Thursday, after years of stalemate, leaves us with a palmful of blessings to count.
LEGALIZATION! The question about the nation’s 11 million unauthorized immigrants has always been this: Are they out or in? Criminals or potential Americans? The new principles say that these immigrants must “get right with the law.” This is a big change from “get out,” the central immigration position of the Republicans’ 2012 presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, who embraced the “self-deportation” mantra of his adviser Kris Kobach, author of Arizona’s brutal immigration law.
So, the GOP's new principles of amnesty without citizenship are making the GOP more popular with the New York Times! Whoo-hoo!
Except, on the same page, the New York Times doesn't even wait one day to spring the other side of the trap: amnesty without citizenship will just be a perpetual sore spot for the NYT-led media to use to stir up anti-GOP racialized resentments:
RELATED IN OPINION
Op-Ed Contributor: Second-Class Noncitizens
By MAE M. NGAI, JAN. 30, 2014
Those who take this ultraconservative position (including many aligned with the Tea Party) are blind to the lessons of history. The United States has a long track record not only of legalizing illegal immigrants, by legislative or administrative action, but also of pairing legalization with a grant of permanent residency, the prerequisite for naturalization.
... The alternative now envisioned by some House members — legal status without access to citizenship — would effectively create a new stratum of society, a permanent second class of Americans.
We have been down that road before, with grim results. The Asiatic exclusion laws, in force from the 1880s to the World War II era, were openly racist attempts to protect America from the “yellow peril” and “unassimilables.” These laws not only prohibited most prospective immigrants from China and other Asian countries from entering; they also excluded all Asians from naturalized citizenship, including merchants and professionals who were otherwise legal residents. In most Western states exclusion from citizenship also meant exclusion from owning agricultural property and from a range of occupations, from teaching to commercial fishing.
... In 2012 Congress expressed “regret” over the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.
Today’s political opposition to a path to citizenship is out of sync with democratic principles, historical practice and the vast majority of public opinion.
It is punitive in spirit. It also suggests an unease with the prospect of more Latino voters. Republicans seem divided between those who recognize the need to appeal to the growing Latino electorate and those who would rather shut out prospective Latino voters than try to win their support.
Citizenship is precious. That is precisely why it shouldn’t be held hostage to narrow, defeatist and racially discriminatory partisan interests.
Gee, GOP, it sort of sounds like this whole "immigration reform" thingie is a Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't trap carefully constructed by your political enemies.