It is extremely rare to hear members of both major political parties working together in Congress, but when legislation comes along -- like the U.S. Senate's "comprehensive" immigration reform bill -- you will hear the words 'bipartisan' and 'bipartisanship' thrown around many times. It's a chance for members of Congress to say, "hey look, we're working together."I should clarify something before I go further. Bipartisanship can be an act of cooperation and compromise, but efforts to find real solutions should not merely be a combination of partisan solutions, but a real attempt at finding solutions that will work -- solutions that are practical, pragmatic, and viable. Elected officials should come together to find nonpartisan solutions that go beyond partisan talking points.
In the debate over immigration reform, one side says we need to secure our borders before we deal with any other issue pertaining to immigration. The argument is this should be our number one concern.
Yet, for years, the net number of immigrants who have entered the United States illegally has been on a steady decline. So, should that really be the priority in considering comprehensive immigration reform?Furthermore, there are some people who argue that paving a path to citizenship for the over 12 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally should be rejected as a form of amnesty, even if the law requires the person to pay a fine and pay taxes.
The talking point is there are 4 million people waiting to come to this country through legal means.
So, what plan is being offered to help speed up the process for the millions who wait years, even decades before they can acquire the necessary documents to come to the United States legally?
Well, we have to secure the border first, and then we can focus on other aspects of immigration reform.
How secure does the border have to be before we focus on other aspects of the immigration debate?
The other side says we need to focus on the immigrants who are already here who need a path to legal residency and then citizenship. We need to assimilate immigrants living in the United States illegally into society so they can freely be active members of their community because deporting 12 million people is not a realistic solution and would leave a huge dent on our economy.
What about additional border security?
Sure, if we can get the measures we want.
Okay. What about the millions of people waiting to come to the United States legally?
Well, we should focus first on the immigrants currently living in the United States and then we can focus on that.
Does anyone actually have a comprehensive plan?!
As Jeremy Lucas points out in the article, On Immigration Reform and Public Opinion Since 9/11:
"So goes the conversation about immigration reform in the dueling chambers of Congress. Send them back. Keep them here. Either way, the terms legal and illegal are now just the adjectives we use to color an even dirtier word in the 21st Century American Lexicon: immigrant."
One side has a plan for keeping immigrants here. The other side has a plan to keep them out. Combining these two plans -- the bipartisan approach -- doesn't offer real solutions for the bigger picture and isn't comprehensive because there is an aspect of the debate that is still being ignored.
Elected officials should work together to find these solutions and there are certain questions they should consider over merely turning to the same old talking points: Are we having the right debate? What information do we have on this topic? What do voters think? What do experts say?
Politicians are not experts on every single issue and many should stop pretending to be.