House Speaker John Boehner should stop getting in the way of comprehensive immigration reform.
Despite various public opinion polls that show that a strong majority of Americans want it, Boehner recently announced that House Republicans “have no intention of ever going to conference” on the reform bill passed by the Senate in June.
The Republican House strategy, which Boehner and other GOP leaders implemented as soon as they regained a majority in 2010, has been to delay almost all forms of legislative process as a strategy to discredit Obama and the Democrats. This tactic reached a climax this fall when the renegade tea party faction succeeded in shutting down the government.
With extremist Republicans driving the House agenda, the immigration issue has proved a thorny one for the president to push forward, as even some immigration reform advocates are conceding. Up to now, they have been understandably critical of Obama for being slow to act on the issue and for deporting increasing numbers of the undocumented.
Meanwhile, millions of undocumented immigrants continue to live in the shadows and work with no reliable protections against employers who pay them below the minimum wage or make them work in unsafe conditions. They have to live every day not knowing whether their families will suddenly be torn apart by the arbitrary enforcement of an outdated immigration law.
Immigration reform is more than just an economic or legal issue. It is a human rights issue, a crucial one in determining the future of 21st century America. It is time for the speaker to find a way to move the legislative process forward.
Ed Morales is a contributor to the New York Times and Newsday and is the author of “Living in Spanglish.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright Ed Morales.
Illustration: Flickr user DonkeyHotey, creative commons licensed.