Yesterday the President had a meeting with labor and business leaders at the White House on immigration. Members of the AFL-CIO, NAACP, and CEOs from Coca Cola, Goldman Sachs and Yahoo were in attendance.
The President was asked if he would consider a change to his deportation policies until immigration reform legislation has a chance to make its way through Congress. There was a record breaking 409,849 people deported during the last fiscal year that ended on September 30, 2012. The President indicated that he has no intention to ease up on enforcement.
Also yesterday, House Republicans held the first Congressional hearing on immigration reform where they rejected the inclusion of a "pathway to citizenship" as a central component of reform legislation.
It has become abundantly clear to me that if there is any hope of reform passing this year advocates must be willing to accept an imperfect solution. As I have stated in previous blogs I could live with a deal that included the creation of a temporary renewable nonimmigrant legal status that permits individuals to work and travel, so long as it also allows them to apply for a Green Card inside the United States if they acquire a qualifying relative or employer to sponsor them. Couple this with changes to both the employment and family based visa system and we would have a solution that would "legalize" people, and to use the common vernacular, get them "in the back of the line." Only there would be a line, and it would be of reasonable size.
This stop gap measure would solve two problems: 1. it would permit 11 million people to come out of the shadows and live without fear of deportation; and 2. it would placate those on the right that see a pathway to citizenship as amnesty that rewards lawbreakers.
We all must understand the political realities we face. The GOP will not back a bill that contains an immediate pathway to citizenship, and you can't get reform legislation passed without them. As such, we need to embrace a solution that affords 11 million people an opportunity to follow the law without destroying their family. The solution simply does not need to be perfect to effectuate that goal.
Please do not allow principle to override practicality, as making the GOP look bad to win elections is NOT the goal here.