Disappointing principles

Something is better than nothing. Being in favor of legalizing undocumented immigrants is better than wanting to deport the Dreamers. However, this change expressed in a one-page declaration of principles on immigration introduced by the House Republican caucus does not mean that our country is closer to immigration reform than it used to be.

The principles presented by the House leadership to its members, in the best-case scenario, should be guidelines for negotiations. The problem is that, following previous strategies, they are being presented as something finished, to be accepted or rejected without changes. House Speaker John Boehner is not Moses, and the principles are not the Ten Commandments, to require everyone to go along with what is written.

Moreover, there is not even consensus within the GOP caucus in favor of these principles. That way, the much-expected principles are a public relations move, something to show that the bloc is not so backwards when it comes to immigration. It is true that there are many Republicans who want immigration reform, but unfortunately, they are a minority in the House.

At this point in the immigration debate, the U.S. economy needs assurance that there will be a reform that provides a stable workforce that is not afraid of being deported in the blink of an eye. Therefore, the House majority should have concrete bills instead of vague declarations of what it aspires to have some day that may never come. The future of immigration reform is in the hands of the House of Representatives. That is why that document is so disappointing.

Optimists think that these principles can be used for immigration reform that can be molded during negotiations with the Senate, so that the final result is similar to a comprehensive reform with border security, employment stability and legalization of the undocumented. Nevertheless, the non-specific content of the principles, the lack of agreement about them within the Republican caucus and the tone of not being negotiable that accompanies them—without taking into account complex details that would be included in a bill—are an awful sign.

The declaration of principles does not change the frustrating reality that the future of millions of working families is still being held hostage by the anti-immigrant extremism of a small but powerful bloc of lawmakers.