Immigration continues to linger in the country’s political landscape, with no clear resolution in sight.
As we move toward November’s congressional election and, dare we mention it this early, the 2016 presidential election, the topic will be bandied about, even in states thousands of miles from the Mexican border.
Ask Eric Cantor. A political unknown, Dave Brat, defeated the House Majority Leader this month in the Republican primary in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District.
Brat made immigration a key part of his campaign. The Wall Street Journal reported that Brat was able to simplify the stances of the candidates as Cantor supporting citizenship for some illegal immigrants who arrived as children and Brat against amnesty of any sort.
Simplification for political purposes doesn’t always translate into simplification for policy purposes, however. The issue involves not only how to treat immigrants who are here illegally, but implementing a policy that will work for future people who want to live here.
It was Cantor’s perceived stance on immigration that might have cost him his seat, not his actual beliefs. As Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said: “I don’t think Eric got beat because of his stand on immigration. I think he got beat because of his lack of defining himself on immigration.”
Closer to home, U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton, has made no bones about his immigration stance. As mayor of Hazleton, in 2006, he championed the Illegal Immigration Relief Act, which sought to penalize businesses for hiring illegal immigrants and landlords who rented to illegal immigrants. It was never enforced, and an appeals court struck it down earlier this year.
Implementing an immigration policy that works is going to involve compromise. In today’s political climate, compromise is weakness. We don’t see this issue being resolved anytime soon for that very reason.
But we also need to remember that immigrants are becoming citizens – legally – all the time. Only two days after Cantor’s defeat, more than three dozen people became Americans when they took the oath of citizenship at the old courthouse in Carlisle.
These new citizens have names like Lieu Hanh Thi Tran, Semso Ferhatovic, Inshan Ali Sultan and Hkaw Ze Xoolang. They come from countries around the globe, including Afghanistan, Burma, India, Israel, South Korea, Mexico, Pakistan, Sudan and the United Kingdom.
They are proud to be Americans. To them, we say congratulations.
To our leaders – including Barletta – we urge intelligent discussion of the issue and not reflexive responses to political posturing.