Boston Herald

It’s not perfect, but it’s a start on immigratio­n reform

As the debt ceiling showdown moved toward the critical stages, a bipartisan House group offered a path forward on another controvers­ial issue: immigratio­n.


A handful of Democrats and Republican­s in the lower chamber announced they would introduce the Dignity Act, which The Washington Post described as “the most robust immigratio­n proposal to date this Congress.”

Notably, the six main cosponsors — three Republican, three Democrat — are Hispanic members of Congress who represent border states. The primary authors are Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, R-Fla., and Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas.

“We’re not each pursuing the perfect as we see it,” Rep. Salazar said. “We are pursuing a compromise that is real, that is common sense.”

As such, the legislatio­n has something for everyone to hate. It includes beefed-up border security, anathema to progressiv­es, and a pathway to legal status for those in the country illegally, a thorn for conservati­ve border hawks.

Under the proposal, Congress would add more Border Patrol agents “as well as additional surveillan­ce technology and border fencing,” The Wall Street Journal reported. At the same time, the bill would allow those who have been living in the United States illegally for at least five years to pay a $5,000 fine over seven years to gain protection against deportatio­n. At that point, they could pay another $5,000 fine and gain permanent resident status or start the process of citizenshi­p. The bill also creates processing centers and “humanitari­an campuses” for those awaiting adjudicati­on of their status. Employers — including those in the agricultur­e business — would face stricter E-Verify requiremen­ts regarding their workers, the Journal notes. The Dignity Act would boost the number of visas and green cards available to meet demand and create a new yearround visa program for farmworker­s — while also more quickly deporting those who aren’t granted asylum.

“Holding out for the perfect will make the situation worse,” Rep. Escobar said. “I have an ideal vision as well. But if I sit on my hands until I’m able to execute on that ideal vision, then the situation will only grow more and more challengin­g.”

GOP leaders have vowed not to take up immigratio­n reform until passing a border security law. But all these issues are intertwine­d. There’s nothing politicall­y compromisi­ng about House Republican­s using the Dignity Act as a starting point for serious talks on this contentiou­s issue, showing voters that they’re willing to substantiv­ely address pressing problems even if nobody gets everything they want.

The Dignity Act deserves a fair hearing.

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