Immigration reform

The need to reform United States immigration policy has become almost as much a certainty as death and taxes. The current system is unsustainable and dysfunctional, and the numbers of people affected negatively by it are growing. Those are increasingly undeniable realities that transcend political parties and are spurring action in Congress – just not quite enough of it at a fast-enough pace. As the reasons for immigration reform amass, the chorus of those calling for meaningful action is increasingly loud and includes a group of Colorado Republican donors urging their beneficiaries to dispense with the dilly-dallying. They are right to do so.

There are humanitarian, bureaucratic and political reasons to address the immigration system that has created a logjam for would-be U.S. immigrants, as well as economic benefits to providing a navigable course by which those who seek to live in the country legally can do so. It is far from a simple equation, but the reasons for calculating it are many and sound, and a long list of business interests and high-dollar GOP donors from Colorado are urging that the delegation get to work. This push was articulated in two letters sent Tuesday that were blunt and logical:

“Standing in the way of reform ensures that we perpetuate a broken system that stifles our economy, leaves millions of people living in America unaccounted for, maintains a porous border and risks a long-lasting perception that Republicans would rather see nothing done than pass needed reform. That is not the path for the Republican Party.”

It is true that the immigration system is complex, difficult to navigate and creates untenable binds for those seeking citizenship – or at least legal residency. It is also true that there is healthy demand among business owners for immigrant workers – skilled and unskilled. It is government’s job to bridge the gap between workers and employers, either by holding the latter to account for hiring undocumented immigrants or by providing a means by which both the labor supply and employer demand can be properly handled.

By the same token, it is the government’s job to enforce immigration laws to stop illegal entry into the country. It is a security issue, to be sure, but it is also one of functional policy. The existing system simply does not work and by ignoring that fact in favor of political entrenchment, Congress exacerbates the problem.

GOP donors may have ideological or economic interests behind their push for Colorado’s House delegation to get off its collective heels, but they are correct in their assessment of the need to take action now and the many reasons to do so. While the process will be not be easy nor the result perfect, pointing out the difficulties is not an adequate excuse for delay.

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