Sometimes, the middle ground is the right place to stand.
That holds for the current push for immigration reform, which comes after Republicans took a beating in the 2012 national elections -- in part because Latino voters saw nothing they liked in GOP candidates' positions on immigration.
President Obama last week laid out his principles for reform in a Las Vegas speech. The president's plan was similar to a bipartisan approach being crafted in the Senate. Both seek a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million people in this country illegally; both also seek new border security measures and a tougher employer-verification system.
But Obama's plan differs from the Senate proposal in one major aspect: It doesn't require border enforcement to be both improved and making a noticeable difference.
For Republicans, that's a nonstarter. Without enforcement "triggers" before illegal migrants can apply for green card, Republican conservatives won't support the package. Five years ago, that opposition killed a reform plan put forth by a Republican president, George W. Bush, who had support of Democrats but couldn't deliver enough votes from his own party. The conservatives argue, with history on their side, that without improved enforcement the country will just put a Band-Aid on the problem and be right back to the same situation.
While we agree with the president that more visas need to be provided for high-skilled workers -- especially foreign graduates of U.S. universities with degrees in engineering, mathematics and the sciences -- any comprehensive plan also needs to have a guest-worker program for lower skilled workers. While such a program is opposed by labor unions, it's badly needed for industries such as agriculture. Without a guest-worker component, an improving economy will bring more people here illegally and they won't return home. All this needs to be worked out in Congress. Some of the parts are in place. With some give and take, long-overdue immigration reform may finally take place.
-- The Santa Cruz Sentinel, Feb. 2