Advocates for immigration reform recently ended a 22-day fast in our nation’s capital. The fast was intended to push the House of Representatives to finally take action on repairing our broken immigration system.
Since the Senate passed S. 744, known as the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act," with broad bipartisan support last June, the House of Representatives has still not voted on the bill. Republican Speaker John Boehner has been unable to marshal support within his own party for a vote.
While it appears that there will be no comprehensive immigration measure signed into law before the end of this year, Democratic lawmakers recently introduced their own bill whose provisions largely mirror those of the bipartisan bill that was passed in the Senate. The proposed bill has the support of some Republican lawmakers. Meanwhile, Representative Robert Goodlatte (R-VA) has vowed to move forward with a series of individual House bills after January 1.
The problem with these bills, from the perspective of Democrats, is that they place undue emphasis on increasing enforcement at the expense of providing a roadmap to citizenship for the nearly 11 million individuals present in the United States without lawful status. Interestingly, President Obama has gone on record as supporting a piecemeal approach to solving the inadequacies of our current legal framework on immigration, so long as the individual bills achieve the same ends as the Senate’s comprehensive bill.
The media’s focus on the fast has not played out well for Republican lawmakers, who now must not only face charges of dawdling on immigration reform, but also of being insensitive on an issue of real human importance. Fasting for a cause one believes in is a desperate measure, but one that is certain to get the public's attention.
The political dysfunction in Washington, D.C., has given way to unorthodox forms of political expression. But there may be signs of a renewed spirit of bipartisan cooperation -- signs that augur well for a deal on immigration reform, including a process for a way forward on citizenship for all who qualify.
Timothy D. Widman is aSan Jose Immigration Attorney and the owner of the Law Office of Timothy D. Widman.