If politics gets out of the way, there may yet be hope for immigration reform.
This fall’s government shutdown brought the debate of many issues to a halt, including immigration reform. Now, however, the reform agenda is back in the news with a proposed bill that may have the ability to improve immigrant laws and boost the economy.
But the issue can only be resolved if politicians of both parties consider it fairly. Immigration has obviously become a partisan issue, leaving it perpetually stalled. Disagreements on such a bill are never simple. Republicans want to debate and edit the bill; Democrats refuse.
The proposed bill would allow illegal immigrants temporary citizenship for six years. Immigrants would need to obtain a visa or return to their country of origin. The bill would also increase security on the southern U.S. border.
If currently illegal immigrants choose to become legal citizens, they must pay taxes and may have access to insurance, driver’s licenses, health care and a larger selection of available employment. Each of these measures would put money back into an economy that desperately needs a boost. (The shutdown certainly pointed that out with painful clarity.)
As the situation stands, there are 11.7 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. None of them may be refused emergency care at hospitals. Their bills are currently paid through taxpayer-funded Medicaid. With access to health insurance, immigrants would pay for their own expenses. Medicaid coverage would reach individuals who desperately need it, and the system itself would become more economically efficient.
It seems like a win-win situation for the government and U.S. taxpayers, but some politicians stand in the way in the name of political obstinacy. This bill should focus on the people of the nation, not parties or potential 2014 poll victors.
Immigration reform has been absorbed into political agendas for some elected officials, but to better the country, it must be considered fairly. The proposed bill will inevitably contain some loopholes. Lawmakers are not omnipotent. Can those holes be closed? Yes, but cooperation will be required to do so.