Brittney Morrett has written what I consider to be a very good piece for The Guardian, regarding immigration, Republicans and Senator Marco Rubio.
Marco Rubio shows how Republicans can lead the immigration debate
In place of Obama’s broken promises, conservatives can offer immigrants a path to citizenship through economic opportunity
By Brittney Morrett
In 2008, Barack Obama sailed into the presidency on a wave of promises – most of which he didn’t keep. One was to reform immigration in a nod to the growing US Latino and Asian populations. To date, there haven’t been any significant steps toward immigration reform from President Obama. Sure, he told the masses on Inauguration Day that this term would be the term for immigration reform, but that sounded a lot like what he said in the first term.
Unfortunately for Obama, Senator Marco Rubio (Republican, Florida) is beating him to the punch. A favorite among conservatives, Senator Rubio is no longer dodging this hot potato issue and is tackling immigration reform head-on. On Monday, he released a concrete plan for immigration reform with a bipartisan group of seven other senators.
Instead of rolling out an innovative solution of his own on immigration, the president’s speech this week can be summed us as, “What Rubio said.” Now, we will truly see if the Obama administration intends to act.
The problem with immigration reform is two-fold. First, Democrats don’t want to reform immigration. If they did, they would have done so already. The party that pushed through the Affordable Care Act could have pushed immigration as well. Instead, liberals use it as an issue to dangle in front of Latino and Asian voters.
Second, Republicans are pointing to the rule of law, worrying that legalization would eventually lead to citizenship for those here illegally, which could be political suicide for the GOP. It’s a valid concern given that about 70% of Latinos and Asians voted Democrat in 2012. However, Republicans need to realize that deportation isn’t a viable solution for the estimated 12 million in the US illegally. Neither is ignoring the issue. (I dropped an unnecessary S from a word here. SP)
Republicans correctly want to secure the border first and foremost. Senator Rubio stated that he will not be part of a plan that does not secure the border – vital for national sovereignty and security. He also believes that those who broke the law should have to wait behind those legally in line, and pay fines and back taxes. These principles were woven into the “Gang of Eight” proposal.
Rubio is on the right track, and the GOP would do well to let him lead on this issue. Immigration is not a bad thing in itself, and it can improve a country’s competitive advantage if looked at, and tackled, from a free-market perspective. If immigration is reformed wisely, it could go a long way toward helping the struggling US economy.
Across the country, crops continue to go unpicked due to a farm labor shortage. A temporary worker program with a path to legal status for those who show self-reliance would solve this problem and boost the agricultural industry. This would legalize and legitimize the relationship between the private sector and immigrant labor.
Once immigrants are here legally, they can contribute to a stronger economy, as they have in the past. According to the Partnership for a New American Economy, immigrants or their children founded more than 40% of the Fortune 500 companies in 2010. That translates to more American jobs for American workers. Taking into account that 23 million Americans are currently out of work, this should be a selling-point for immigration reform.
Everyone should agree that the current system needs improvement, so that it becomes more efficient and promotes legal immigration. The number of visas available to those in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics should be raised. If Americans want the US to remain competitive in the global market, they should encourage skilled immigrants to come to America.
Conservatives can do well with this issue if they hammer home the economic benefits of immigration reform – and do so with engaging and understanding rhetoric. No one wants to argue against putting food on the tables of American families or expanding the private sector, because it’s a losing argument.
Liberty, independence, and prosperity are what conservatives want for everyone. That is what drew me to conservatism in the first place. Those values and principles are also what draw immigrants to America (as opposed to other countries). If conservatives learn how to communicate their principles to Latinos and other immigrant groups, it would go a long way toward reducing the hold Democrats have on those demographic groups. Leading on immigration reform is a chance to do just that.
This is the Republicans’ issue to tackle. They can soften their often misattributed “nativist” image while promoting market-driven solutions that would lead to a better and stronger America. Immigration can’t be ignored, nor can the wavering economy: immigration reform is a way to address both.