There is a reason the twitter hashtag #TimeIsNow caught on. The time really is now for Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and the House Republican leadership to allow a vote on a bipartisan immigration reform bill. It's been 5 long months since the Senate passed such a bill, and sent it over to the House for consideration.
But it's been one excuse after another from the House GOP leadership. First it was the Tea Party-manufactured fiscal crisis which consumed most of September and closed the government for the first two weeks of October. Now the House GOP leadership -- including even some like Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) who has worked to draft a bipartisan immigration bill -- claim that time has run out this year on immigration reform; that the GOP leadership cannot possibly schedule a vote on a bipartisan bill because there are not enough days in the legislative calendar.
Really? Am I missing something? Last I checked the majority party in the House -- the Republicans -- controls the legislative calendar.
What about next year then?
Well, there is certainly no reason why the House cannot work on immigration reform in 2014. But if they delay it that long I can already imagine more lame excuses being concocted by the GOP leadership, starting with their reluctance to schedule a vote before for the primaries lest some of their members be vulnerable to challenges from the anti-immigration reform fringe of the party. Of course after the primary season the House leadership will claim the legislative window leading up to the fall election will be too short to schedule a vote on immigration reform. What about during the lame duck session which follows the general election? Maybe, but that's another tiny legislative window, probably big enough to squeeze in immigration reform but not if the House GOP would rather conjure up more excuses.
Then we're into 2015 and it won't be long until presidential politics will take precedence over immigration reform.
In the meantime, 1,100 people are being deported every day. That's not a cold statistic. That's 1,100 mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, grandparents and others who came to the U.S. for the same reasons most immigrants did -- to build a better life for their children. Just because the House GOP leadership cannot seem to find the political courage to allow a vote on immigration reform, thousands and thousands of hard working folks continue to be torn from their US Citizen spouses and children who remain behind in the U.S. For some hardliners in Congress, like Rep. Steve King (R-IA), it's easy to justify this daily injustice. "They should have waited in line and immigrated legally", so the argument goes. "Illegal immigrants have no one to blame but themselves if they get deported." And on and on.
That might make some sense if this country had a safe, orderly, and fair immigration policy-one designed to keep the border secure and American families safe and together. But that's not case. There is no family- or business-friendly immigration "line" in which to wait. What exists is an ugly morass of rules and regulations that help very few, except maybe fringe restrictionists who want to stop virtually all immigration.
The bottom line is there is no perfect time to do hard work. And there is no time like the present for Speaker Boehner and the House GOP leadership to step up to the plate, put a bipartisan immigration bill before the House, and allow the elected representatives to vote on it. And even if they can't bring themselves to do that, there are certainly other bills -- like the Kids Act which helps DREAMERs -- that can be put to a vote.
Let the chips fall where they may. No more excuses, the time is now. Our country cannot afford more dithering and foot dragging by the House GOP.