The July 4 holiday is a special one this year, with Independence Day for 11 million undocumented immigrants, including 50,000 Irish, hopefully around the corner.
The passage of the Gang of Eight immigration bill through the Senate last week was a masterpiece of bipartisan politics led by Senator Charles Schumer on the Democratic side, while Senator Marco Rubio was the key figure for the GOP.
Without Rubio’s support the Republicans would likely have voted en masse against the bill with the exception of Senator John McCain and a few others.
Now the scene shifts to the House of Representatives, where a bitter battle is expected.
Already, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia has made clear he supports a passage to legal status for the undocumented, but not citizenship.
That is a disastrous policy that will replicate disastrous outcomes in Germany and elsewhere in Europe where foreign migrants are forever second-class citizens.
House Speaker John Boehner has been his usual slippery self on immigration reform, seemingly promising swift passage of a bill at one point and then insisting on a Republican majority for passage, not an overall majority.
That hardly sounds like the inspired leadership that this issue needs, but there is still a considerable time to go.
There are many groups engaged in the effort such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Silicon Valley giants like Facebook and Google, Catholic and evangelical churches, labor unions and agricultural interests. All are making their voices felt about the need for reform.
For the first time all are on the same side on this bill, which provides a powerful lobby for change.
The Irish American lobby must get cracking now too.
We have better leverage with Republicans than most other ethnic groups, and the ability of organizations such as the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform and the AOH to make a major impact is a critical part of the reform efforts.
There is simply no alternative for decades if this current effort fails. Now that a bill has emerged from the Senate with over two-thirds support, there is no reason why it should.
Republicans must surely know that they can never hope to woo the Hispanic vote unless they agree to a comprehensive immigration policy.
Yes, the old Tea Party rump continues to battle for no reform at all, a decision that would have disastrous consequences for the U.S. and the Republican Party.
Despite the discordant noises currently coming from the House, it remains a must-do fro the GOP if they wish be known for something other than primarily the party of older white men.
Rubio, with a magnificent speech in the Senate, showed the way forward for a more inclusive policy.
Let us hope his colleagues in the House follow suit.
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