Immigration countdown: House is wasting time; Senate seeks solution
McClatchy-Tribune News Service (MCT)
The following editorial appeared in the Dallas Morning News on Monday, Sept. 11:
With Congress' October recess fast approaching, immigration reform remains a moving target.
Here's the latest way to read what's happening on this most critical of issues for the economy, the justice system and post-9/11 security:
After spending August yelling "fire," House Republicans are in a bind. They must do something to justify all their summer immigration hearings, the ones that mostly echoed the House's penchant for adding more agents, weapons and detention beds along the border.
So, House Republicans plan to either pass a new border security bill or slip more border security stuff into spending bills that Congress must pass before year's end.
Never mind that Washington already invested heavily in border security and that the Senate bill the House keeps ignoring contains lists of spending requests to tighten up the border. House leaders like GOP Speaker Dennis Hastert won't touch that bill because it contains a guest worker program for foreign workers and a chance for some illegal immigrants to earn citizenship.
We wish House Republicans - particularly those from North Texas - would listen to the 30-some Texas business leaders who wrote a bipartisan letter to Congress on our Viewpoints page last month. They urged legislators to do more than simply tighten the border so Americans can finally have a sane way of dealing with illegal immigration.
Fortunately, wiser heads prevail on the other side of Capitol Hill. Senators may be forced to vote for some of the revised spending bills the House might send over, but plenty of them understand that the immigration crisis doesn't get solved simply by throwing money at the border.
Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison met last week with key senators, their staffs and business and immigration lobbyists to outline the compromise she and GOP Rep. Mike Pence continue to fine-tune. Their bill contains border security spending, a guest worker program that requires all illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America to return home before obtaining a visa and a lengthy shot at citizenship for some illegal immigrants.
We have some qualms about whether the citizenship track is so long that it would discourage illegal immigrants from becoming legal workers. But at least there's movement afoot on a solution. That's far more than you can say about the House.
In fact, it's crucial for the Senate's searchers to keep up their work. The last thing needed is for the do-little House to grab home field advantage.