Opinion: Republicans Can Pass Immigration Reform, Here’s How

As President-elect Trump prepares for his term in office, Republicans in Congress have stumbled out of the gate with an ill-advised attempt to gut an independent ethics office that investigates House lawmakers and staff accused of misconduct. But if the GOP is looking for an easy victory that could put the Democrats on their heels, they may look no further than a compromise on immigration reform.

Immigration reform has been difficult, mainly because of one important disagreement between the GOP and the Democrats; what to do with the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants. Democrats desire a pathway to citizenship for this population; they have touted the economic and social benefits and it doesn’t hurt that new citizens also means new potential voters.

However, Republicans have been opposed to a pathway to citizenship, saying this would reward illegal immigration and sidestepped the legal system, despite the many incentives businesses provide to undocumented labor. Some in the party have also used thinly veiled racially charged arguments against a pathway to citizenship because these immigrants would dilute the social fabric of the country, ie. they may be less likely to assimilate into American culture. And frankly, given the GOP’s performance with minority voters, the party knows they have a demographic disadvantage with new Latino and Asian voters that would only be made worse by extending this population with the right to vote.

Immigrants without documentation are faced with daily struggles. It is difficult to work without proper identification. They are susceptible to human and labor rights violations because of their status. Their status is also a source of extreme stress for their families, many of whom are citizens. An undocumented immigrant may be pulled over for a traffic infraction and be taken to a detention facility without any notice to their family which can last weeks or months.

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