The much-anticipated Republican meeting in the House of Representatives showed that immigration reform has a tough road ahead, with a divided majority.
The prospects are complicated for a caucus that on immigration, like with the farm bill and the debt, is unable to set a path that is not dominated by extremistswhether to impose their recalcitrant positions or block the consensus achieved by their colleagues.
Therefore, the way Senator Jeff Flake (a member of the Gang of Eight) reacted to this meeting, his discouragement, is understandable. And with good reason: The senator, who knows first-hand about the issue of border security, since he is from Arizona, now sees his House colleagues tearing their hair out discussing a subject they are unfamiliar with, the Southern border.
Especially given that the Mexico-U.S. border is the entry point for only half of undocumented immigrants, but in speeches, it captures 100% of lawmakers’ attention. It is simpler to demagogue the issue of border security than to focus on those overstaying their visas.
On the other hand, the passage of time is an enemy of immigration reform that is also being used to set it aside as a priority, allow the opposing party base to reinforce itself and demonize it before the election, like Obamacare. That is why at the end of the meeting, lawmakers talked about a months-long timelinewhich can go into next yearto debate this bill.
Now is the time to pressure lawmakers with phone calls and e-mails demanding reform with a path to legalization. The road is tough, but we are already halfway thereand the possibilities are still the best we have had in decades.