By San Jose Mercury News
Most Americans, including a majority of Republicans, support immigration reform. But Tea Party conservatives oppose what they call amnesty and everyone else calls a path to citizenship. They are determined to prevent it.
Now it’s up to Republicans in the House of Representatives – especially Speaker John Boehner – to show a nation grown cynical about politics that elected leaders can do what’s best for the country even when it means risking defeat at the polls. They have to stand up to the Tea Party and enact comprehensive reform.
Reform is crucial for economic reasons as much as humanitarian. It will allow the most talented foreign college students to remain in the United States – often Silicon Valley – to start careers and build businesses. It will enable farmers to find the low–wage workers they need to keep crops from rotting on the vine. It will help secure the border. And it will mean that 11 million undocumented immigrants now woven into the fabric of our society can finally participate freely in American life – including paying income and Social Security taxes.
The Senate last month passed a bipartisan bill, but the rhetoric of House Republicans makes it hard to imagine they will follow.
This is nuts. Fourteen Republican senators voted for the bill, despite Tea Party warnings, at least in part because it’s in the GOP’s long–term interest.
Tea Party congressmen threaten to oust Boehner as speaker if he does this. But so what? Boehner knows reform is needed. He presumably chose a career in politics because he cares about the country’s future. This is the time for him to put the national interest – and, incidentally, the GOP’s interest – first, even if a majority of the House Republicans he leads will not follow his example.