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The More Things Don’t Change…But Might

Editor’s Note (May, 2021):

TMM observed recently that the old adage, “the more things change, the more they stay the same” remains especially true when applied to U.S. politics.  Especially with issues like Gun Violence, which we first explored in 2019 and again last month and now Immigration, also explored in 2019 and again last week.

The recent surge of migrants (many unaccompanied children) at America’s southern border focused attention again on immigration issues.

TMM addressed these issues in 2019, with a two-part series.  The first installment, Wall Casts Pall on Immigration Debate, discussed former President Trump’s simplistic, unrealistic solution, the border wall – and equally unrealistic solutions from some Democrats.

The second installment (Ignoring Immigration History Lesson – And Repeating Its Mistakes?) offered some potential solutions for these seemingly intractable challenges. Since it still seems relevant today, we’re re-running it (updated with images), hoping to help jump-start the debate and prompt some long overdue action.

Don’t hold your breath, though, Moderates. Our proposed 2019 solutions were based on the last serious Congressional attempt to resolve immigration issues – way back in 2013.  But we can at least hope that, to paraphrase that old adage, the more things don’t change… they finally might?

Here’s our 2019 take on these thorny issues:

Ignoring Immigration History Lesson – And Repeating Its Mistakes?

  • February 24, 2019

A vexing issue for decades, Immigration is now causing extreme measures, including President Trump’s government shutdown and national emergency declaration.

Let’s revisit 2013, when the bipartisan Senate “Gang of Eight” came close to finding compromise solutions.  Meaning solutions nobody was HAPPY with – but everybody could LIVE with.

Eight prominent senators, four Democrats (Bennet-CO, Durbin-IL, Menendez-NJ, Schumer-NY) and four Republicans (Flake-AZ, Graham-SC, McCain-AZ, Rubio-FL) hammered out a comprehensive Immigration bill that passed the Senate 68 – 32.  Fourteen Republicans joined Democrats in passing it.

Other Republicans didn’t vote for it because in some states, Immigration is the Third Rail of politics:  touch it and you die (meaning a primary challenger claiming you’re “soft on Immigration”).

Noteworthy that John McCain, the “Moderate Maverick” who died last year, was an instrumental voice in attempting to reach across the aisle.

Why didn’t this bill become law?  Because Republican House Speaker John Boehner, facing rebellion from Tea Party hard-liners, refused to act on it; so it expired.  As Immigration became more partisan in recent years, few serious attempts addressed it – and none came close to resolving it.

Since this bipartisan effort came closest to success, let’s review its provisions:

  • A path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already here, contingent on border security improvements. Permanent residence only AFTER legal immigrants receive permanent status.

This provokes intense reactions, as opponents scream “AMNESTY” at terrified politicians.  But it included border security improvements, which everybody agrees we need, and could have avoided Trump’s shutdown and national emergency declaration.

  • Immigration system reforms, reducing visa backlogs, fast-tracking permanent status for university graduates in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, math).

We need these immigrants’ skills in our high-tech economy, to compete globally in technology advancements.  So this benefits us as well as them.

  • Expanded, improved verification systems to ensure all employers confirm their employees’ authorization to work in the U.S.

A dirty little secret.  Employers fill difficult jobs Americans won’t take (landscapers, roofers, maids, dishwashers, among others) by hiring undocumented immigrants.  Many remain illegally “in the shadows”, paying no taxes, vulnerable to abuse by unscrupulous employers and criminals.  With more monitoring of these workers, they would pay taxes and employers would legally fill jobs.

  • Better visa options for low-skilled workers, including agricultural workers.

Farmers need workers to pick vegetables and fruits in harvest seasons.  Without immigrants, produce would rot in the fields, bankrupting farmers.  Food prices would skyrocket.  Again, this would benefit us, not just immigrants.

Since this bill readily passed the Senate six years ago (and might have passed the House if given a chance), why not use it as a starting point now?

What’s needed to resolve this issue, once and for all?

One, politicians with courage, standing up to extremists in their parties blocking compromise solutions, such as this one.

Two, Americans accepting reality, actively supporting legislators who compromise with the other side.

Too much to hope for?  Maybe, at least with extremists on both ends of our political spectrum.  But the rest of us, especially Modern Moderates, must embrace compromise as our only hope – and DEMAND it from our leaders.


Images: Google Images

The More Things Change quote: English Idioms & Slang Dictionary

Immigrant children: CNN

Trump: PBS

Churchill quote: The Good News Herald –

Gang of Eight: Daily Mail

Biden and McCain:

Boehner: Streetsblog USA

Protesters: The Atlantic

Farm workers: Los Angeles Times

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