Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

December 25, 2013

Is expanding ‘green card’ best answer?


Dec. 25, 2013 — This year is a week away from ending and that obviously means 2013 will not when Congress starts solving our national problem of illegal immigration.

In other words, what are we going to do with the estimated 11 million undocumented foreign nationals living in the U. S.?

We thought the issue would be a high priority after the 2012 elections in which the Republicans learned their political policies are not longer viable in our country’s changing demographics.

Further encouragement came last June when the Senate passed a major reform bill with strong support from both parties.

But that progressive legislation stalled in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives because the most conservative members can’t agree to create a path to citizenship by establishing what they claim is a form of amnesty for lawbreakers.

Moreover, despite the complicated and time-consuming process required for citizenship in the Senate bill, the House critics claim it would bring another wave of illegal immigrants to our shores.

In our view, the unspoken reason for the opposition is that the House Republicans fear the bill would result in millions of new Democrats being added to voter rolls.

The presidential election last year reinforced Democrat dominance among ethnic minority voters, particularly Hispanic.

Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is last year’s losing vice presidential candidate and an author of a bi-partisan budget deal to avoid another government shutdown.

Ryan and others are proposing an alternative to the proposed path to citizenship.

Instead, they favor permanent legal status, not citizenship, for most of those 11 million in the shadows.

In other words, these immigrants would be allowed to stay here indefinitely with a new type of “green card” but not gain citizenship.

The “green card” actually isn’t green any longer but even the government uses that term because it is so well known.

We believe undocumented immigrants should have a path to citizenship if they work and pay taxes, obey our laws and become good citizens.

However, it appears that approach is not going to become law in the forseeable future.

Yet, we must address the problems existing in education, law enforcement and health care because of the millions of illegal immigrants who stay under the radar.

Limited legal status for such individuals could result in nationwide implementation of the E-Verify system to detect illegal job applicants.

Expanding “green card” status now seems to be the most realistic option for beginning to solve this problem.

As a nation of immigrants ourselves, America should do no less.