America’s immigration system has been broken for years. As U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz Balart, a South Florida Republican, recently told the Sun Sentinel, the system “doesn’t work for our national security interests. It doesn’t work for economic security. It doesn’t work for legal immigrants.”
There are at least 11 million immigrants across the nation living in the legal shadows, including about 825,000 in Florida.
Many businesses, particularly in agriculture, rely on their labor. Yet other businesses, especially in high-tech fields, can’t fully utilize the world’s top talent because of outdated visa limits, tied up in the broader deadlock over immigration policy.
Former President George W. Bush pushed for a comprehensive approach to immigration reform that included better border security, a guest-worker program and a path to citizenship to coax illegal immigrants to get right with the law. But his effort failed under opposition from fellow Republicans in Congress.
Ironically, it’s Republicans in Congress who could – and should – lead on a new national effort to fix immigration. Savvy leaders recognize that the party’s hard-line opposition to reform has cost it dearly with Hispanics.
Some Republicans are now shopping piecemeal plans for reform.
We prefer a more comprehensive approach that resolves the wider range of problems with immigration policy.
Immigration reform has been a national security and economic imperative for years. Now, it’s also a political imperative for Republicans. For the country’s future, and the party’s, Republicans and Democrats need to work together to fix the system.