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July 5, 2013 at 6:00 AM
U.S. House Republicans should debate, support immigration reform
Our Independence Day editorial doesn’t mince words. Now is the time for the U.S. House to give full consideration to the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform package, S. 744.
Remember how Latinos overwhelmingly supported Democrats during the 2012 elections? Afterward, U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., called on the GOP to “modernize” and be more inclusive of minorities. Now is her party’s chance to do something substantive, and it’s stalling…
Some politicians might be too caught up in their own self-interests to take timely action. The Wall Street Journal reports only 38 of 234 House Republicans nationwide represent districts where Latinos represent 20 percent or more of the population. Those representatives have nothing to lose by stalling.
An overhaul of the system is long overdue and should include a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million people living and working in the shadows, including roughly 230,000 undocumented immigrants in Washington state.
Here’s a link to that Wall Street Journal report cited in the editorial. If you’re looking for an easy-to-read, concise breakdown of what’s in the Senate’s bill, I suggest reading this summary by the Migration Policy Institute.
Here’s an Associated Press interactive on U.S. immigration policy, including a searchable listing by state showing how senators voted. Washington senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell both voted for passage.
The bill isn’t perfect, but it’s a start. The process of becoming a full-fledged American will be anything but easy.
Senators could only agree on a deal based on first spending billions on securing the U.S.-Mexico border. After that, applicants would have to wait as long as 13 years to receive citizenship and undergo background checks, pay back taxes and learn English. At least they’ll have legal status.
Washington stands to benefit from the Senate plan in several ways. It would lift the cap on H-1B visas so that high-tech employers like Microsoft can fill work force demands and stay competitive, the agriculture industry would be able to hire more seasonal workers and young people brought to the U.S. as children — known as DREAMers — would be given a chance to get green cards and put their American education to good use.
There’s also an economic case for passing the Senate’s plan as-is. According to the Congressional Budget Office, enacting S.744 and allowing non-citizens to live in the U.S. lawfully would reduce the federal deficit and create a net savings of about $175 billion by 2023.