Will comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) die a slow and ignominious death in the House? Will the Republican Party, whose thought leaders on the far right chant “Kill the Bill,” face a near-term visit by the Grim Reaper?
Are conservatives abandoning conservatism over immigration, as David Brooks and this blogger maintain? Are lobbyists who were “drinking brandy and smoking cigars” while writing the Senate immigration bill the cause of its apparent failure in the House?
Will Paul Ryan outflank John Boehner and pull off a twofer (saving CIR and snatching the Speaker’s gavel)?
Is President Obama, whose second term is seen by some as flagging, now apparently channeling Hamlet on CIR (“To travel or not to travel? That is the question.”)? Should he stay in the background (as he reluctantly agreed during Senate action on CIR)? Or should he go out on the hustings to drum up CIR support (as some in the Hispanic Caucus have urged)? Does he really think that a weekly address and a nifty White House White Board on the economic benefits of CIR are enough to sway the House?
Has border-surge mania gone too far? Are House Republicans and Democrats, other than the Gang of Seven, meeting in stealth mode to work out a solution?
Will John Boehner break the Hastert Rule, or will he allow the House to play house in “regular order,” or will a discharge petition dislodge the Senate bill and force a House vote (as Rachel Maddow fancies)?
These are all Beltway questions for Washington talking heads to ponder. The answer to moving immigration reform legislation in the House can be found on Main Street, in city halls, and in state capitols. It lies in regional and state immigration solutions.
Some ideas, to be sure, are futuristic (like the Migration Policy Institute’s proposal to “[Leverage] “Migration and Human Capital in the U.S., Mexico, and Central America“), while others are far-fetched (check out “The Megamerge Dissolution Solution” which proposes that the U.S. create 10 new American states out of Mexico).
Despite the focus on Washington, there’s a serious movement afoot that’s growing in rustbelt cities like Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Dayton, Indianapolis and Lansing. It’s about welcoming international students and foreign entrepreneurs, risk takers and job creators, and even their undocumented brothers and sisters, who revitalize metropolitan areas, states and regions.
The solution in the House — which either party can coopt — is devolution. House members should espouse small government solutions that transfer the authority to the states and to regional government entities to pre-approve large allotments of visas and green cards — far more than the puny quotas of the Senate bill.
The economies of Mississippi, Alabama, Alaska, New Mexico, the heartland states, and the Great Lakes states, are each different. So why should there be only one federal immigration policy? Some of the federal power to select projects deserving of special-purpose employment-based visas should be conferred on the states. Immigrants create economic opportunities for Americans — it’s our national story.
Republicans in the House need not take the swift boat to oblivion like a capsized generation of California Republicans in a prior decade. If the GOP House members are unwilling to swallow “a single, massive, Obamacare-like [immigration] bill” — notwithstanding their devouring of a 600+ page farm bill (while excising food stamps for the needy) — so be it. They can still use decentralized immigration reform to create jobs and spending in their districts and thereby gain political-risk insurance so that they are not “primaried” on their right flank.
Republicans worry about building walls but forget that walls are breached or surmounted by those with a will:
The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They are there to stop the other people.
Those are not the words of an illegal border crosser in Arizona. (They’re actually from the late Randy Pausch and “The Last Lecture.”) Still, they could just as well be said by the immigrant strivers who would come, legally, to cities like my hometown of Detroit and other Great Lakes cities to break down the brick walls of blight, unemployment and poverty with the hammer of creatively destructive capitalism and the timeless American energy and will to make life anew for their families and communities — if only the House would allow them.