By Nick DAngelo
Last week the U.S. Senate’s bipartisan Gang of Eight released the first serious attempt at immigration reform since 2007, when conservative activists pressured President George W. Bush and other Republicans to withdraw support for the bill. That does not seem a possibility this time, with the legislation being supported by Senate heavyweights from both sides, such as Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and John McCain (R-AZ), and conservative firebrands like Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ).
Rubio himself has emerged as the single spokesman for the reform package, which would tighten border security and provide a tough path to citizenship.
The freshman from Florida started a media frenzy, completing dozens of interviews and countering the far-right activists that derailed similar attempts at reform five years ago.
The status quo, Rubio notes, is “de facto amnesty.” A government without the resources or ability to enforce legal immigration simply turns a blind eye. The son of Cuban immigrants, Rubio is perhaps the best able to identify and relate to the hardship of all immigrants, legal and undocumented, wanting to secure a better life for their families. But with over 11 million individuals in the country illegally, a starting point to reform is necessary. This is that starting point.
The bill provides tough fines, a 10-year waiting period, and education checkpoints for undocumented immigrants who seek citizenship.
It includes the DREAM Act, providing a five-year pathway to citizenship for children of undocumented immigrants.
It revamps the visa program and implements tough fencing and security benchmarks. It includes the compassion yearned for by liberals and the vigor demanded by conservatives.
In short, the legislation is a powerful compromise, and a carefully crafted piece of legislation that begins to solve a serious problem faced by our nation. Over the next six weeks, the 844-page document will be vigorously debated, with many on both sides believing it is time for serious overhaul.
Speaking with his seven colleagues, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) noted, “America is an idea; nobody owns it. We’ve got to create order out of chaos.” Creating that order takes time, and begins with solid compromises and tough actions.