Inside Opinion

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Tag: illegal immigrants


Immigration reform finally gets a political opening

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

The political ice jam that’s been blocking immigration reform may have broken at last.

On Monday, key Republican senators joined key Democratic senators in announcing a plan for dealing with America’s long-festering illegal immigration problem.

The endorsement of Marco Rubio of Florida is especially promising: At the moment, at least, he’s the Republican Party’s strongest presidential prospect for 2016, and he carries considerable weight in the party.

The sound you don’t hear (so far) is a chorus of firebrands shouting “No amnesty!” or “What part of illegal do you not understand?” Mantras like that have helped kill past efforts to legalize the millions of undocumented immigrants who are firmly rooted in the United States and aren’t going away.

Many of them have broken no law since entering the country and have children who are U.S. citizens. Some American farmers – especially Washington orchardists – can’t get their crops harvested without illegal labor.

There’s no conceivable scenario under which as many as 11 million illegal immigrants could be forced out of the country. But the status quo is intolerable. The only solution lies in letting the honest majority of them emerge from the shadows – without creating a grand incentive for further illegal immigration.
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With fixing, DREAM Act could still come true

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

It’s a shame the DREAM Act failed in the closing days of Congress even as other major bipartisan measures made it through under the wire.

But a few strategic revisions to the bill would give it a better chance of succeeding, even after Republicans take over the House in January.

The idea behind the DREAM Act is to offer legal residency – and citizenship, far down the road – to young illegal aliens on condition that they serve in the military or make substantial headway in college.

As a matter of humanity, a 20-year-old whose parents smuggled her across the border at, say, age 3 shouldn’t be set packing to a “native” country whose language she can’t speak and whose culture is foreign to her.

The current form of the bill rebuts most of the complaints about earlier versions.
It is not “back door amnesty” for 1.2 million illegal aliens. The number of young people likely to qualify is much lower. An in-depth analysis by the Migration Policy Institute concludes that only about 260,000 of those eligible would make it all the way to permanent legal status under the bill.

The bill creates high hurdles. The college requirement would screen out many of the poor. An English proficiency requirement would screen out those who can’t speak it.
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Immigrant license surge argues for two-tier system

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

What happens in Arizona doesn’t stay in Arizona.

That’s the conclusion some experts draw from the exploding number of immigrants seeking driver’s licenses in three states.

Washington, Utah and New Mexico are the only states in the nation that permit illegal immigrants to get licenses. All three are seeing a big surge in the wake of Arizona’s crackdown on illegal immigration.

Reporters for The Associated Press found one of the Arizona exiles just north of here, in Burien. Carlos Hernandez packed up his whole family after Arizona passed its new law and came to Washington. He cited access to identification as a key reason.

What’s more, crooks are making a lot of money exploiting the already loose rules.

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Keep eyes on the prize: Immigration reform

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Barack Obama has his heart in the U.S. Justice Department’s new lawsuit against Arizona’s hard-nosed crackdown on illegal immigrants. His commitment to comprehensive federal immigration reform is not so clear.

The Justice Department’s legal challenge is necessary. Superficially, there’s no conflict between Arizona and the federal government. The U.S. government is supposedly enforcing its own immigration laws; Arizona has given its law enforcement agents a mandate to enforce them, too.

On the ground, though, there’s a big difference between what the U.S. and Arizona governments want to do.

For starters, the feds have never gotten genuinely serious about illegal immigration. Too many powerful interests are vested in the status quo: Employers who like the cheap labor, libertarians who don’t like any identification scheme tight enough to screen out illegal aliens, and Democrats – like Obama – who want to cultivate Hispanic voters.

More to the point of this lawsuit, the federal government is now targeting the violent criminals and drug-traffickers among Arizona’s large illegal population. A state law that leaves peaceful illegal immigrants in fear of all law-enforcement officers will make them less likely to help federal agents get the bad guys.

The conflict has to be resolved in favor of the feds. They, not the states, are ultimately responsible for securing the nation’s borders. If they’re doing a bad job – which they are – the remedy lies in Congress and the executive branch.

The broad outlines of that remedy are fairly obvious.
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