LatinaLista -- If the Sunday morning appearance by Senators Schumer and Graham on NBC's Meet the Press accomplished anything, it clarified, threats aside, as to Republican Senator Graham's commitment to the issue:
MR. GREGORY: ...immigration reform, where you two have come together to, to seek out a path toward immigration reform; or whether it's climate change, financial regulation and all the rest. There's real questions about whether there has been a poisoning of the well here, Senator Graham. Your friend Senator McCain said there will be no more cooperation with Democrats in the White House this year. And this is what the New York Daily News wrote in an op-ed this week as well. "Senator Lindsey Graham, long been a thoughtful and constructive legislator. But the South Carolina Republican made a statement last week that showed why Washington is losing the public's trust and his party in particular is losing its sense of duty.
"Graham had joined with Senator Schumer to present a well-reasoned outline for immigration reform. Then Graham threatened to walk away from his own proposal. `If the healthcare bill goes through this weekend, that will, in my view, pretty much kill any chance of immigration reform passing the Senate this year.'"
What do you say?
SEN. GRAHAM: Well, I'm just being honest. I'm going to work with Chuck Schumer to come up with legislation to control China's manipulation of their currency. I will keep working with Chuck on immigration. But here's the effect, immigration's tough. You don't have to ask anybody other than me to tell you that. It is a tough heavy lift. The president promised to pass an immigration reform bill in his first year. They've done almost nothing in the White, White House on immigration. We've been absorbed by health care. People are risk averse. If a moderate Democrat got a phone call from the president, he wants you to come down to the White House and help him with immigration now, most of them would jump out the window. That's just the truth. I will continue to work with Chuck, but immigration is a heavy lift. We haven't done the things necessary to bring the body together, and 16 Democrats voted against immigration reform. This idea that I would be the 60th vote on immigration, climate change could not be further from the truth. Tough sledding lies ahead because of the, the acrimony around health care. But on financial regulations we'll get a bill. I hope it's a good bill, not some liberal bill with a few, a few Republicans.
MR. GREGORY: Senator...
SEN. GRAHAM: I look forward to working with Chuck.
MR. GREGORY: Senator Schumer, is immigration reform dead then?
SEN. SCHUMER: I don't think so. First, let's look at how desperately we need it. Fifteen thousand people cross our border illegally every day. Most of them take jobs from Americans. And yet, at the same time, there are certain people we need in this economy to help us grow, and we can't get them--engineers, doctors, farm workers. So the system is broken--it lets the wrong people in, excludes the wrong people--and so we need to fix it.
Now, Lindsey and I have worked for a year. We've put out a framework that goes by what we think most Americans believe. Most Americans are anti illegal immigration and pro legal immigration. And we're real close. We're real close.
SEN. GRAHAM: Right.
SEN. SCHUMER: We do need a second Republican to come on the bill, and Lindsey, to his credit, and he's got a lot a courage to step forward here, I salute him, has always said we need that. But I would plead with him, if we can get that second Republican, we have business and labor ready to sign on. We have all the religious community, not just the liberals but the evangelicals. We even have Lou Dobbs and Bill O'Reilly saying positive things about our proposal. I would urge that we try to get this done...
In other words, "it's a heavy lift" means there isn't much political will to help Democrats on such an important issue of which the majority are Democratic supporters. The difference between immigration and the climate bill is that the climate bill is seen as helping people across party lines.
An immigration bill, while it does help the nation's economy in ways the average person doesn't quite get, its immediate impact helps a group that helped defeat John McCain.
So why would it be in the best interest for Republicans to sign on and work on immigration reform?
For three reasons...
The GOP's Turn at Leaving a Legacy
Time and time again, pundits have declared that passage of the healthcare bill is the President's victory, his legacy. If Republicans work on passing fair and just immigration reform, there's no reason why it won't be seen in history as the GOP's legacy for creating policy that both addresses the current situation and lays down a workable framework for discouraging future illegal immigration.
Re-invents the Latino perception of the GOP
If Republican senators joined with their Democratic peers in honestly addressing immigration reform, without throwing up roadblocks for the sake of being difficult, it drastically alters the Latino public perception of who are the Republicans.
In the process, their willingness to collaborate elevates their profile in a positive light. Since actions speak louder than words and involvement with reforming immigration takes less effort than stumping for Latino votes on a campaign trail, it would be an easier way to show Latino voters their sincerity in addressing issues that matter to Latino voters.
On the other hand, if immigration were to fail due to Republican's unwillingness to collaborate, the blame would be laid entirely at the feet of Republicans and remembered at the polls. In fact, such inaction on the part of the GOP would be enough to re-energize a voting bloc that has gotten complacent with their civic duty since turning the electoral tide in favor of Obama.
The GOP's refusal to take up immigration reform won't be seen by the Latino community as something between the Obama administration and Republicans but it will be seen as a personal affront to the Latino community which, in turn, would make things uneasy for those Latinos who count the GOP as their party of choice.
Begins the Healing Process
If Republicans put aside their anger over the healthcare bill and accepted the partnership now being offered to them to reform immigration, it would set a national example of cooperation -- something sorely needed in our country in these times.
Two politically opposing sides coming together for such a cause is the only way to start mending the widening rift that has set in among the American public. It's a rift that is leading to an increase in divisiveness, incivility and intolerance and has the potential to rip the cohesive fabric of American society
Is it not the patriotic duty of every political officeholder to keep this country together as stewards of this nation's democracy as they shepard the democratic process?
Is it not the moral obligation of every political officeholder to shield this nation from those forces that would weaken it?
Is it not time for Republicans and Democrats to come together in the name of the United States of America?