GOP Leaders Have Opportunity to Embrace Immigration Reform; Will They Take It?

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Monday court ruling that continues to block expanded executive action underscores that Congress has an opportunity — perhaps the only opportunity, for now — to create an immigration process that works for America.

Many conservatives recognize the opportunity that lies before a Republican Congress, under Speaker Paul Ryan’s and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s leadership, to seize the moment and offer solutions. It is also an opportunity for an administration with 14 months left on its calendar to work with Congress.

A key part of the conversation: The mass-deportation alternative is too costly, both economically and morally, and Americans across the political spectrum know it.

Some Republican presidential candidates are shining a bright light on those costs. Others, not so much.

In Tuesday’s Republican presidential debate, Donald Trump continued to advocate for “send[ing] people out.” But candidates Jeb Bush and John Kasich drew a distinct line between their immigration views and those of Trump and others.

“Come on, folks! We all know you can’t pick them up and ship them across, back across the border. It is a silly argument. It is not an adult argument. It makes no sense,” Kasich said during the debate. “ … We can’t ship 11 million people out of this country. Children would be terrified and it will not work … think about the families. Think about the children.”

Bush added, “12 million … to send them back, 500,000 a month, is just, not possible. And it’s not embracing American values. And it would tear communities apart. And it would send a signal that we’re not the kind of country that know I know America is. And even having this conversation sends a powerful signal.”

Meanwhile, the Justice Department will appeal the Fifth Circuit’s decision on expanded executive action to the Supreme Court. But a decision is likely no earlier than June 2016 — which would leave the administration little time to implement the new programs and land just months before the election.

“Republicans risk blowing a huge opportunity,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum Action Fund. “Do they want to be seen as the mass-deportation party? That’s a problem that would follow them to the polls.

“But Republican leaders in Congress can change the conversation. Make the president, and voters, an offer they can’t refuse. Create an immigration process that ensures our security, restores respect for the rule of law, emphasizes human dignity and provides opportunities for immigrants that allow all Americans to thrive.

“Conservative voters strongly support these kinds of broad solutions, even in the face of rhetoric that taps into their frustration.”


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