Bipartisanship

Border Security First, The Best Way Forward on Immigration Reform

Illegal Immigration

(Photo Credit: The Blaze)

One of the best ways to reach bipartisan agreement on comprehensive immigration reform is to begin with a significant border security bill. Before we decide on what to do with the millions of illegal immigrants in America, a bill substantively addressing the problems and threats along our Southern border needs to be crafted and enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Obama. Comprehensive immigration reform does not have to take place in the form a single massive piece of legislation; a series of immigration reform bills can constitute comprehensive immigration reform. We must make it incredibly difficult for people to illegally enter into our nation. By starting comprehensive immigration reform with discourses about amnesty or a pathway to citizenship for extant illegal immigrants in America evinces a failure to commit to first principles: enforce the existing rule of law and keep the homeland safe from potential terrorists who could use our porous Southern border as a vehicle for entrance into our great country.

President Obama taking unilateral action on immigration is severely damaging to efforts to reach bipartisan reforms on immigration. If President Obama is truly interested in working with Republicans to achieve comprehensive immigration reform, then he must rescind his unilateral action on immigration and refrain from future unilateral action on immigration. President Obama cannot honestly expect to build relationship across political aisles while sending messages that he’ll do what he wants to do with or without the approval of Congress—that’s simply no way to engage in mature negotiations.

Although Republicans need to continue to insist on border security first as their approach to comprehensive immigration reform, they must also speak openly about their plans for comprehensive immigration beyond border security. Too often Republicans allow themselves to appear myopic on comprehensive immigration reform: they’ve permitted Democrats to paint an effective picture of them as having no real plans for comprehensive immigration reform. Republicans must publicly discuss their complete ideas for comprehensive immigration reform and not limited their public discussions of comprehensive immigration reform to border security.

After passing meaningful border security legislation and providing the necessary funding for this legislation, Democrats and Republicans can come together to reform the traditional immigration system. Both Democrats and Republicans agree that the traditional immigration system needs modernizing to make the process of becoming an American citizen more humane. The length of time it takes to become an America citizen should be greatly reduced. Many illegal immigrants chose to enter our country illegally because it takes too long to gain citizenship through our current immigration process. We can make illegal immigration less attractive by making legal immigration more appealing.

Our elected national officials in Washington, D.C. too often take a failed approach to solving complex problems: by beginning with where they disagree instead of where they agree. The American people—Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike—must demand their elected national officials to approach comprehensive immigration reform by beginning with what they agree on and move on to the more contentious issues of comprehensive immigration reform.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Bipartisanship in Crisis

Barack Obama(Photo Credit: The Daily Beast)

We’re currently situated in a political milieu where Democrats and Republicans are more focused on the next election than on meeting the real needs of the American people.  Many Democrats and Republicans find it more important to advance their political careers than to improve education, pass legislation that will help to create jobs for the unemployed, extend affordable healthcare to the uninsured, and etc.  Of course, there are legitimate times when Democrats and Republicans must stand for their core principles and values and be unwilling to sacrifice those principles and values, but this shouldn’t be the case on nearly every critical issue important to their constituents.  The majority of Americans elected politicians to do things that are going to ameliorate their lives; they didn’t elect them to fuss and fight each day.

Too many people are experiencing abject poverty for Democrats and Republicans to become complacent with their bickering.  It’s time for them to deliver positive results for the people who elected them.  When you’re not sure where your next meal is going to come from, you don’t really care if the Republicans are going to take the Senate in 2014 or will Hillary Clinton run for President in 2016; you simply want your elected leaders to improve your life.

The American people must increase the intensity of their demands for their elected leaders to move beyond simple partisanship and pass legislation that’s going to make America a better place to live and work.

What happened to the national discourse about jobs?  Why aren’t we having a national discourse about jobs anymore? 

While the scandals going on in Washington, D.C. are essential to investigate and discuss, Democrats and Republicans must make the economy, specifically job creation, their top priority.  People who are unemployed deserve to have a Congress and President seriously concerned about getting them a job.  Finding some bipartisan solutions to creating jobs does not have to be an overly partisan undertaking. 

Most Americans have some level of sympathy for the poor.  Poor people, however, need more than sympathy—they need meaningful voices in Washington, D.C. representing their interests.  Unfortunately, poor people don’t have the resources to lobby members of Congress.  This is where clear thinking and decent Americans, both Democrats and Republicans, can come together to place pressure on their elected officials to make the poor a priority.  America has a moral responsibility to ensure the poor are well-served.

We have an opportunity to force our elected officials to embrace bipartisanship: vote those out who aren’t willing to reach across the political aisle to enact legislation that enhances the lives of all Americans—not just the lives of the well-to-do and well-connected.  Many Democrats and Republicans are guilty of catering to the well-to-do and well-connected.  The American people have the power to throw these types of politicians out of office—just vote them out!  When we use our voting power as true political power, we can command the change we long to see.

Bipartisanship does not have to be in crisis.  We can use our voting power as our chief political power to demand that it always be valued.  Too many politicians in Washington, D.C. aren’t concentrating on governing.  Governing requires compromise.  The midterm elections are coming in 2014.  This presents the first real opportunity to communicate vociferously that we want a Congress that works for us.  Let’s elect people who hear us and who genuinely believe we matter.  We, the American people, hold the future of bipartisanship in our hands.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison