LatinaLista -- News that Senators Menendez and Hatch have introduced their own versions of how to address immigration reform is less than a hopeful sign that any kind of consensus will be reached and something constructive will be accomplished when Congress returns after the November elections.
Sen. Menendez's proposal includes elements that immigration advocates have been fighting for all along -- recognition and workable applications to appease both critics and those who have no intention of going anywhere else.
While it's far from perfect for what immigrant advocates had hoped for in any immigration reform, it is a first step.
Unfortunately, Sen. Hatch's proposal seems to take two leaps backwards. Not surprising coming from a party that wants to give the illusion of working in a bipartisan way but has no intention of fulfilling that expectation.
Hatch's proposal, titled "Strengthening Our Commitment to Legal Immigration and America's Security Act," relies on stereotypical exaggeration so much that it makes for a difficult read. He seems to cluelessly, if not purposely, blur the line between the nation's undocumented population who are productively working and living in our society and Mexican organized crime rings who are wreaking havoc on Mexican society.
What's interesting about Hatch's proposal, or not, is how hard he tries to paint the undocumented immigrant as terror-imposing, harden foreign criminals that want to call the U.S. home.
In fact, in paragraph after paragraph, Hatch does his darndest to illustrate the lawlessness of the undocumented population that one has to wonder why even propose to help them with immigration reform?
For example, Hatch states:
"When I meet with constituents, one of their top concerns is how to fix our visa system," Hatch said. "Many are rightly concerned about how some of these folks involved in organized crime get into our country and wreak mayhem in our communities."
The bill would further place limits on states' ability to receive federal funds to provide Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to cover children and pregnant women who are not U.S. citizens. It would also direct the Health and Human Services Secretary to submit a yearly report to Congress on the total dollar amount of federal welfare benefits received by households of illegal aliens in each state and the District of Columbia, as well as the overall dollars the states spend on welfare benefits.
"This is vitally important," Hatch explained. "Before we can have an honest discussion about the drain illegal aliens are having on our welfare system, we must be armed with accurate information to understand the extent of the problem and its serious ramifications to the prosperity of our nation."
Other key provisions would prevent the nation's executive branch from granting legal status, on a mass basis, to millions of illegal immigrants in the U.S. through the misuse of the parole and deferred action process. The bill also would strengthen penalties against illegal immigrants who grow and manufacture marijuana on federal lands.
With language like this, it's easy to see that these two sides will never come together for a practical solution unless it involves branding every undocumented immigrant a terrorist, cartel member, marijuana grower, identity forgerer or worst.
While there are people of every ethnicity who abuse the system, it's a deliberate disservice of Sen. Hatch to paint such a broad stroke and force people to admit to crimes they are not guilty of doing.
Yet, what is worse is that he is planting this distasteful impression in the minds of his constituents and peers.
That's not leadership -- it's cowardice and a compromise can never be reached when one side is too afraid to do what is right.