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Does the defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor spell the end of comprehensive immigration reform for 2014? Photo by: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Immigration reform will happen, sooner or later

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Does the defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor spell the end of comprehensive immigration reform for 2014? Photo by: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Does the defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor spell the end of comprehensive immigration reform for 2014?

It would be ironic if so.  Cantor, the second most powerful member of the House, was never a true reform advocate and in his losing primary campaign lashed out against “illegals” using very intemperate language.

But the media have ordained that immigration was the key factor in Cantor’s defeat, and despite polling and much evidence to the contrary that is the story line that has prevailed.

Certainly, Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore, who is in America this week, will encounter much naysaying on the issue of immigration reform, but there is still much to play for.

Rather like gay marriage which was once opposed by the vast majority of Americans, immigration reform is now broadly accepted by most Americans as inevitable and good policy.

How could it not be on several levels, not least the need to bring the best and brightest to America which has always been a key factor in immigration.

The reason why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other pro-business groups, including those in Silicon Valley, trumpet the need for immigration reform has nothing to do with the border in Mexico.

Rather it is enlightened self-interest which seeks to ensure that the best brains in the world find a natural home in the United States.

With a university system that has no peer anywhere else and a creative society that has propelled America to global leadership, the need to constantly replenish the work pool with high performing immigrants has never been greater.

Take Sergey Brin from Google for instance, or Elon Musk of PayPal -- Brin from Russia and Musk from South Africa -- who founded two of the greatest companies in America today.

Americans need to look at immigration from that end of the telescope too, not just the poor Hispanic migrant trying to make ends meet for himself and his family.

In the Irish context Australia has been greatly enriched in recent years by tens of thousands of Irish who settled there.

Needless to say in a different time many of those migrants would have chosen America to settle. They would have added immeasurably to the talent pool here.

The shame is that the most strident voices against immigration are similar to those who have resonated with that nativist voice throughout history.

Once it was the “Know Nothings” who violently opposed the Irish coming to America.

Now their successors claim the same bad policies in their determination to keep America free from foreigners.

The bad news of course is that the foreigners are already within the walls, the overwhelming majority from whatever background hard working and productive as any American citizens are.

It appears to be a lesson that has to be relearned for every generation.

The defeat of Cantor is a step in a process, not the end of one. Americans will always find the right outcome to such issues, and comprehensive immigration reform is the only way forward. That will become evident either sooner or later.

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