by Moses Apsan, Esq.
If recent political activity means anything, then the rumors of the death of immigration reform have been greatly exaggerated. Republicans McCain (Arizona) and Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) who took an about face on comprehensive immigration reform last spring, are showing signs that they may be on the verge of revisiting this hot issue. Graham told Politico that he has been talking to New York Senator Chuck Schumer and followed these comments with a statement to CNN that he would consider immigration reform, once the borders are secure. Is this the opening that proponents for comprehensive immigration reform have been waiting for or is it just another Red Herring, The border issue has been the republicans matador's red flag since the passage of the 1986 Reagan program called Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). IRCA granted an estimated 3 million unauthorized immigrants amnesty. As part of IRCA, a border fence was required to be constructed. Yet after over 25 years, the border was never constructed. Is this what McCain is refering to when he says that he would consider immigration reform AFTER making the borders secure? Or perhaps he is being genuine.
Well now, it seems that McCain is talking about creating a mutually agreeable set of benchmarks with Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano. What type of border security and what level he is considering, we will soon find out.“We have to agree on certain criteria on what is successful securing of our border,” McCain said during a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing. “I think it would be very helpful to all of us if you could lay out what is necessary, what assets need to be devoted and what statistics could show us that the border is being secured, and at that time I think we could move forward with comprehensive immigration reform.”
This comment alone was enough to change the wind of opportunity and if said in earnest, could open a dialogue on the issue which would lead to a possible reform bill in the New Congress.
McCain has been a fierce opponent of Napolitano and the current administration. In June he said “Statistics can be manipulated to prove anything,..But the cold hard fact is that our border is far from secure.”
At the hearing McCain seemed to soften his anger against Reno and said that she "quite appropriately" pointed out the efforts the federal government has made over the last two years on border enforcement; however, he was unhappy at it's involvement and success in his state.
In the past Napolitano has rebuffed McCain and other proponents of the "first secure the border theory," but at the same meeting she seemed to indicate a willingness to to meet and talk with McCain and others to find a common vision of what "securing the border" entails.
Well there certainly is a future for comprehensive immigration reform and the rumors of it's death have greatly been exaggerated.