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Guest opinion

Grijalva: GOP driven by ideology on immigration

Comprehensive immigration reform could go down as one of the most overlooked, overdue priorities Washington has ever let slide.

Over the past few decades, we’ve had major legislation — sometimes more than once — on healthcare, national security, funding for higher education, pay equity for women and many of the other key issues for our country. On immigration, we’ve seen a lot of talk and a lot of money thrown at security and enforcement efforts that have done as much harm as good.

If you think more security is the answer, ask yourself why, after uncounted millions of dollars spent on drones, workplace raids, stepped-up deportations, border sensors that don’t function and more harsh rhetoric than we’ve seen in decades, our country hasn’t solved any of its immigration problems. We can’t reduce “immigration reform” to “more uniforms” and pretend we’ve fixed the system.

That’s why, after so many years, it’s good to see both parties taking this seriously and being more interested in agreeing than disagreeing. The last several years have been more about SB 1070 and its offspring than about the real solutions we need. That’s changing for the better, and we should seize the opportunity.

Unfortunately, there are still plenty of obstacles in the road, and some of them are determined to stay right where they are. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) was asked recently on National Public Radio whether he supports a path to full citizenship for the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants living in this country.

“I do not,” he said.

Despite all we’ve heard about Republicans’ need to get with the times, to stand up to the extremist wing of their party and to replace Gingrich-era rhetoric with serious policy ideas, the Republican head of the committee overseeing this issue will not budge. This is a route not only to a failed legislative effort but to permanent political oblivion in the long run. Dead-ender enforcement-only demands are signs of weakness and intellectual exhaustion, not a meaningful bargaining position.

I don’t believe this is part of a clever 12-dimensional chess game in which different Republicans stake out different positions to satisfy various constituencies until we reach a deal. I think he means exactly what he says. My colleague simply sees no reason to solve this.

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Here’s the problem with that. If there is no way for 11 million people who are already here — people who have families and jobs and pay taxes — to clarify their legal status, then we can’t really say we’ve reformed anything. Plenty of those 11 million people are students who came here with their parents as infants. Through no fault of their own, they find themselves without a place to call home.

It’s difficult for many of my Republican colleagues to put themselves in the shoes of one of these students, but I’d ask them to try for a moment. Let’s say your parents brought you here from Ireland as a baby, and they overstayed their visas. You have no idea that every day you spend here is a national political issue.

You’ve studied hard, and when it’s time for you to go to college you realize you don’t have the right paperwork. Well, my conservative friends will tell you to drop what you’re doing, go back to Ireland and wait several years — maybe a decade — for the bureaucracy and the politicking to be sorted out, and then consider applying for temporary status.

Is this a realistic proposition? Is that the kind of country we are? Is this the future we want for ourselves — to banish people who have worked hard, lived successful and productive lives, contributed to this nation’s economy and haven’t committed any crimes?

We should help anyone with a clean record who is willing to study the history of this country, understand their own duties as a citizen and learn English. There are legitimate concerns about how we really address this. We’re not talking about any blanket forgiveness plan — serious immigration reform is going to be thorough, and it’s going to have strings attached. The president has been admirably clear and strong throughout this process on the need for a solution that works, not just one that ticks the political box. 

Even with a reform law, they’re going to have to wait years for full citizenship. This is not a snap-your-fingers process.

I think this is going to happen this year. My Republican colleagues don’t have a choice. This issue is too big and has been ignored for too long, and whatever they might want to tell themselves, it’s not just immigrants who care about it. “Sorry about your childhood, but don’t come back until we lose a few more elections” is not a serious policy. We can do a lot better.

U.S. Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva represents Arizona’s 3rd Congressional District.

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2 comments on this story

Mar 1, 2013, 11:48 am
-0 +0

an essay by John Daniel Barry
THERE was a literary man that I used to walk along the street with. He had a large number of acquaintances. Often, apparently for no reason, he would become excited and he would frown and turn his head away. For a few moments there would be silence. Then he would speak with bitterness of someone we had just passed, someone he hated and refused to speak to. In every instance he would tell me something discreditable about the person, something that made it impossible for him to keep his peace of mind. In most of those instances he had known the people very well and, as a result of their misbehavior, he had cast them off. The sight of them seemed to arouse in him a flood of bitter memories. Sometimes he would tell me how much he hated this person or that. Once I ventured to say to him: “Don’t you find it very uncomfortable to hate so many people?” He looked at me with surprise and resentment. “Of course I don’t,” he said. Then he went on with noble indignation: “Do you suppose that I am going to have anything to do with people I despise? There are plenty of decent people in the world and I prefer to know them.” I did not pursue the inquiry. But I wondered why he did not stop to consider the distressing effect of his hating on himself.

Hating is always distressing. And yet so many of us hate bitterly. We often boast of being good haters. It is as if we were to boast of being good dipsomaniacs, or good drug fiends, or good disturbers of our own peace. Indeed, hating is so painful that it may reach a point where even the haters see its folly and, for the sake of protecting themselves, take measures either to modify or to stop their hating. “I got into such a state of mind over that thing,” said a friend to me the other day, after telling of an unpleasant complication that he had been involved in with a business partner, “that I found I was making myself sick. I was ready to do my partner personal violence. So I decided to put the whole thing out of my mind. It was easier to let myself be done up in that particular transaction than to go on nursing that miserable feeling. Besides, I saw that my partner was feeling just about as bitter as I felt myself.” Here, it seemed to me, was a particularly interesting situation. “How did your partner feel after you called the thing off?” My friend smiled. “Well, though he’d refused to budge an inch before, he came off his perch and offered to make a compromise. So the whole thing straightened itself out.”

Shortly after I published a little fictional study designed to show the workings of hate on the mind and on the body, a reader said to me: “I have a case of hate of my own that I’d like to see what you think of.” Then he told me of a gross injustice he had been subjected to, a distressing experience that had broken out into many irritations and trials and that promised to continue the torment. “Do you wonder that I hate that man?” he asked, referring to the cause of the trouble. I certainly didn’t wonder. Under such circumstances, hating seemed to me the most natural reaction in the world. “I’ve got so now that I enjoy hating him,” he went on. “The more I hate him the more I enjoy hating him.” As he spoke the expression in his face was painful to see. It was as if he were taking a strange, distressful pleasure in prodding at an aching tooth or at sore gums. What he really enjoyed was giving himself relief from his hating by consciously expressing it in his thoughts and in his words. “But, of course, I know,” he said, “that hating doesn’t do any good to me. It does me harm. It makes me suffer. So I have to stand two things through that fellow—the thing that he did to me and the hating.” It seemed to me that he was working his case out pretty well. “Of the two things, which is worse?” I asked. Without a moment’s hesitation, he replied. “Oh, the hating.” And yet it was the hating that he could deal with, the he could, if he chose, end.


Feb 27, 2013, 9:45 am
-1 +1

Sure, why should Grijalva push for people being held accountable? It is because of the left’s constant “nothing to see here, move on” attitude that got him reelected twice after calling for a boycott of our state? So, naturally, Grijalva wants to do everything he can to encourage an accountability-free culture so that he and his local political machine can continue to fleece this community out of millions of dollars without ever having to answer for it.

This guy makes me sick. When is his district going to stop being so horribly stupid and see this puke for what he actually is? Has this guy EVER had a private-sector job in his life?

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