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Immigration reform is common sense

01/30/2013

America is a country proud of its immigrant heritage.

But for more than 30 years now, a country that takes so much pride in being a melting pot has had an ironic problem—illegal immigration, and the best way in which to stem it.

Immigration reform is no new issue; rather, it’s a persistent one. Lobbyists and political organizations have been trying to change the dialogue around immigration in Washington for decades.

The system in place is broken and stilted. It can take years for an individual to acquire American citizenship. Sometimes, there’s no hope at all for ever becoming an American.

The Reason Foundation, a public policy think tank based in Los Angeles, California, published a flowchart graphic in 2008 illustrating the many ways immigrants can apply for and receive citizenship.

In the best case, applicants can expect a wait time of at least seven years. Even with a natural-born American citizen as your sibling or adult child, you could wait up to 28 years for a chance at the American dream.

Twenty-eight years, and that’s doing it the legal way.

Not only are we saddled with a busted path to legal residency and citizenship, we’ve got upward of 11 million illegal immigrants in the country already.

Dishonest employers are all too eager to take advantage of those undocumented workers who can’t complain when they’re paid less than minimum wage for long hours of punishing physical labor.

Until very recently—as recently as November 2012—political polarization among lawmakers ensured any amendments to the current immigration process would be hard-won.

That climate may be changing thanks to the way the Hispanic vote affected the election.

On Monday, the “gang of eight”—Senators Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., John McCain, R-Ariz., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Michael Bennet, D-Colo.—proposed an  initiative intended to streamline our immigration system.

The group went public with its plans just a day before President Obama was to deliver a policy speech at a high school in Las Vegas, Nevada outlining his own plan for a comprehensive overhaul of the outdated system.

The White House released a fact sheet detailing the President’s expectations for “commonsense” immigration reform (many of which are shared by the gang of eight) after the speech.

His plan revolves around four principles: strengthening control over America’s border, cracking down on the hiring of illegal workers, providing a path to earned citizenship for immigrants already here and simplifying the existing immigration process.

What’s ridiculous is that Obama proposed nearly the same policy back in 2009, but was unable to get any traction on the issue because many Republican lawmakers refused to consider a policy offering amnesty to illegal immigrants.

Now that the GOP realizes how essential Hispanic voters are to political power in 21st century America, they may be all too eager to compromise with Democrats on immigration reform to gain favor with a demographic that they haven’t been popular with.

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