Guest column: Martin Dyckman: Compromise appears possible on immigration reform

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By Martin Dyckman

Waynesville, N.C.

If there’s one rule that really matters in politics, it’s this: Don’t let best be the enemy of good.

Otherwise, both are likely to lose.

For people who favor universal health insurance — as I do — Obamacare was a hard swallow. It falls far short of covering everybody. It’s too complex, guaranteeing that there would be snafus for opponents to exploit.

But it was the best that could be had at the time, given the strong resistance to any reform and the necessity to convert the insurance industry from opposition to alliance.

Someday, there will be a universal system, like Medicare, for everyone. The more the Republicans hammer at Obamacare, the sooner that day will come.

In the meantime, however, millions more people now have health insurance, and other provisions in the law are beginning to restrain inflation and improve patient care for everyone. Would anyone other than the Koch Brothers call that a bad outcome?

It was a righteous compromise, even if the compromising was entirely among Democrats themselves.

Another compromise that’s possibly in the works is causing angst in both parties.


The status quo is unacceptable.

Some 11 million people aren’t going to “self-deport” themselves, as a certain candidate put it.

There is no stomach in the government for creating the sort of police state it would take to expel them all.

They are willing workers, hard workers, without whom a number of industries — notably agriculture — would collapse.

But their lack of status makes them easy prey for unscrupulous employers, landlords, merchants and lenders, who exploit their fear of going to the police or the courts.

One such immigrant whom I know went to court against a man he accused of theft. The wrong man left in handcuffs, and was deported.

Many immigrant children, brought here in their innocence, have excelled at our schools and colleges. But their future here depends on the grace of a second-term president.

It’s in the national interest, not just the human interest, to normalize the status of these 11 million people. That has been a goal for Republicans as well as Democrats. John McCain’s attempts and Jeb Bush’s advice come to mind.

Among the Republicans, however, there is a bitter, vindictive, and — in many cases — racist opposition to doing anything decent about immigration. That makes it difficult for responsible GOP leaders to countenance any comprehensive legislation that would include a path to citizenship.

There are Democrats who won’t hear of anything less.

Last week, however, there were faint but unmistakable hints of compromise.

House Speaker John Boehner suggested that Republicans might agree to a path to citizenship for the children. The adults would be allowed to remain, living and working openly and legally, but with no promise of citizenship now or later.

President Obama indicated that he might accept it, so long as it left the citizenship issue open to future legislation.

This would be a tough choice for many. But I suspect most immigrant parents would recognize it as a better situation than they have now.

In any case, no law is final. One that falls short today — like healthcare — can always be improved tomorrow.

The immediate urgency is to let those 11 million people come out of the shadows.

Many unsettled details and obstacles could foil this. One example: the spite that Majority Leader Eric Cantor expressed in saying he wouldn’t trust Obama to enforce the stronger border controls, which Republicans demand.

If the Republicans were thinking only of the general election, compromise would come easily. They need Hispanic votes. But their primaries have been poisoned by the Kochs and the Tea Party.

Among the Democrats, it wouldn’t be surprising to find some whose insistence on full citizenship and opposition to any stronger border enforcement is based less on principle than on the hope for yet another failure that could be blamed on the other side.

But as difficult it may seem, the leaders need to keep searching for that compromise.

They can take comfort in the fact that such difficulty, in our system, is nothing new.

In 1910, as he thought about trying to re-enter politics and regain the White House, former President Theodore Roosevelt wrote to his eldest son something that both Obama and Boehner could say today:

“The wild-eyed radicals do not support us because they think we have not gone far enough.”

TR had done pretty well despite them. Now it’s Obama’s turn. And Boehner’s.

Dyckman is a retired associate editor of the newspaper formerly known as the St. Petersburg Times, now The Tampa Bay Times.

© 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 2

JohnARandolph writes:

Forget Immigration Reform Until Washington's Unilateral Immigration Corruption Is Brought "Out Of The Shadows"

The reason immigration reform is furiously being doubted and is suspiciously on hold is because finally enough Americans now understand Washington's dubious cyclic use of profit/labor-driven illegal immigration in order to justify "reform" raping US taxpayers out of billions in border security boodle.

Nowhere is this corruption more evident than in the Senate's S. 744: Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act passed on June 27, 2013.

For starters scroll down to Section 6 "Comprehensive Reform Funding" (a)(2)(A) to see the initial $46.3 billion tax payer price tag.

And for extra-corrupt corruption see "Gang of 8" leader Senator John McCain's Arizona pork (200 million for Tucson Arizona Prosecutions (Operation Streamline) under S.744 Section 6 (a)(3)(C)(2)(B)(i) referenced in 1104(a)(1) AND 200 million more for Arizona's and FEMA "Operation Stonegarden" (S.744 Section 6 (a)(3)(C)(2)(B)(ii) referenced in Section 1104(b).

Atta boy John give 11.2 million undocumented 13 years of labor RPI peonage under S.744 Section 2101 just as long as you can continue to run thousands of other undocumented through your beefed up Arizona Federal courts (right into your crony CCA prisons) at the rate of 210 people a day per the taxpayers' cost of $125.00 per undocumented person - per day.

For 20 years now Washington's own NAFTA and CAFTA have exacerbated poverty in the undocumenteds' home countries guaranteeing their necessary illegal immigration piece to their insidious profit-driven scam.

This corruption is the single most important aspect to immigration reform that must be brought "out of the shadows" before any politician or immigration advocate will draw one any "immigration reform" respect or attention.


avery1937 writes:

Ask yourself why do most Hispanic Americans want amnesty for 11 million illegal aliens with 6.3 million of them coming from Mexico?

******To increase their power base.******

The Hispanics Americans say that they will be the majority in 50 years.

They could be right.

There are 300,000 "Anchor babies (American Citizens) born to illegal aliens in this country each year who will be able to sponsor their endless relatives when they turn 21 (Chain Migration)

Now the do nothing Politicians from both parties think that if they grant amnesty to 11 million illegal aliens,they'll vote for them.

Why would we want to give that much power to people coming across our Southern border?

So we can become like Mexico and most countries in South America?

It's time to make that decision and the only response that Washington understands is the voice of the American voters in November 2014!

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