Perhaps the hallmark of John Boehner’s speakership was the Republican Party’s failure to offer viable alternatives to policy initiatives promoted by President Obama and the Democrats. Boehner has one month remaining to leave a significant mark on our nation’s failed immigration policies.
The so-called immigration reform bill in the last Congress failed because it served no identifiable public interest. It attracted a political coalition by pandering to narrow partisan interests, while offering nothing of value to the vast majority of Americans, whose interests our laws are supposed to serve. In fact, it betrayed those interests.
As he exits the public stage, Boehner has an opportunity to set a new direction – one that restores the concept that the American people are the primary stakeholders in U.S. immigration policy. A month is insufficient time to fix even a small fraction of the deficiencies in our immigration policies. But it is enough time to pass smaller bills that affirm that the purpose of immigration policy is to protect the vital economic, social and security interests of the American people.
Instead of another vain attempt to enact legislation that addresses the demands of people who broke our laws and deep-pocketed corporate interests that want easier access to foreign labor, Boehner should focus on sending bills to the president’s desk that would restore public confidence that someone is looking out for their interests.
One such opportunity is final passage of a bill that withholds certain federal funds to jurisdictions that shield illegal aliens. After the tragic murder of Kate Steinle in San Francisco, there can be little doubt that jurisdictions (including Chicago) that turn criminals back onto the streets, rather than turn them over to federal authorities for deportation are recklessly compromising the basic security of our citizens.
Boehner’s final month also presents an opportunity to prevent employers from undermining American workers by hiring illegal aliens. The highly effective E-Verify program, a voluntary program that allows employers to verify employment eligibility, is up for reauthorization. Boehner could push to make E-Verify permanent and mandatory for all employers.
After decades of ignoring the public interest, and seven years of the Obama administration sabotaging those interests, Boehner can use his final days as his party’s leader by laying the groundwork for true comprehensive immigration reform in which the interests of the American people are paramount.
Dan Stein is president of FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
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