Guest Opinion: Immigration fix is needed, now
When President Barack Obama issued his now-stayed executive orders on immigration in late 2014, we objected. We warned that doing so would halt any discussion of immigration in Congress and risk court challenges.
The ratcheted-up partisan furor would freeze in motion any efforts to forge a meaningful compromise in Congress about the immigration overhaul America needs so badly. Some 12 million immigrants live among us today without legal sanction, most paying taxes and working at hard, low-wage jobs.
America must find a humane way to welcome many of these immigrants into our midst and out of the legal shadows, while securing our borders to stem the flow of new arrivals.
The battle to convince Congress that these two goals are compatible is a difficult one, but it is one on which the president must keep his attention.
We urged Obama to not lose time or stoke the partisan divide by issuing his executive orders, to no avail. On Thursday, the Supreme Court proved us prescient, and we couldn’t be more unhappy about it.
Texas sued, and a federal district judge granted the state’s motion to block the orders from taking effect until after a trial. The administration appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and lost.
On Thursday, it lost again. By a 4-4 vote, the Supreme Court has left in place the stay.
Just ahead of his decision to issue the executive orders, we observed that “President Obama knows what he wants from Congress regarding immigration reform. What he hasn’t figured out is how to get it.”
He still hasn’t, and he’s wasted 18 months in which he should have been trying to change that. All the while, the logjam in Congress over the badly needed immigration reforms has only hardened into place.
Many Republicans have quickly cheered the ruling, and again denounced the president’s approach as illegal. But these celebrations are inappropriate.
It’s too soon to say whether Obama’s actions were illegal. The trial has yet to begin.
And it’s worth remembering why Obama felt he needed to issue the orders in the first place: The refusal in Congress, especially by Republicans, to even consider comprehensive reform to our broken immigration system.
The time for finger-pointing has passed. Both sides must get back to the one place they rarely seem to be: The negotiating table.