The Senate is on the verge of preventing an initial filibuster of the bipartisan immigration reform bill, with several Republican votes in support of proceeding. Despite all the trumped up “scandals,” the Republican Party shows little interest in derailing the top item on the President’s second-term agenda.
The path to final passage is still tricky, as Republicans will try to pull the bill rightward, and Democrats will have to warn them how far is too far to keep the coalition intact.
But this is a clear sign that the GOP leadership wants this bill to pass.
As President Obama noted today, the bill is an imperfect compromise, as most bills are. The path to citizenship will likely be more arduous than it needs to be. Time will tell if the other reform measures successfully create a reasonable flow of immigration, rendering illegal border crossings unnecessary.
But policy particulars aside, final passage would signal the end of demagogic immigration politics. It would bond both parties to the belief that an underground economy that degrades human rights is unacceptable. With both parties implicitly declaring that the interests of Latino voters cannot be ignored in a multicultural America, whatever flaws might manifest in the future will have to be addressed and not exploited.
This is what we have already achieved with ObamaCare, albeit more tenuously without the bipartisan buy-in. We have declared as a nation that our government will ensure that nearly everyone will get health care, and everyone will be obligated to share the cost of insurance if they can afford it. That effective pledge means if hiccups occur, as they often do, we as a people, through our government, will have to fix it. We have taken responsibility, forever.
Now with immigration, we are on the verge of saying we are not in the business of letting a broken system limp along. We are not going to pretend these workers aren’t part of the backbone of America. They will have the basic rights and fair wages, and they will fully contribute to our nation’s continued growth and success.
Amidst all the scandal-mongering and obstruction, this is a hopeful sign not only for our hard-working immigrants, but for our politics.