If Republicans Want to Reform Broken System, They Should Work with Democrats, Not Criticize from the Sidelines
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding comprehensive immigration reform. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
Monday’s United State Supreme Court decision to strike most of the unconstitutional Arizona immigration law reaffirmed something most of us already knew: the onus is on Congress to repair a broken system.
No one denies the system is broken.
But in the 48 hours since the Supreme Court’s ruling, Republicans have engaged in revisionist history to explain why it’s taken so long to fix it.
Here are the facts:
When Democrats brought a comprehensive immigration reform bill to the floor in 2007, Republicans filibustered the legislation – even though Republican President Bush supported it.
And they twice filibustered the DREAM Act – which would allow children brought to the country by their parents to go to college, serve in the military and work toward citizenship.
Democrats have been ready to pass comprehensive immigration reform for years.
It’s Republicans who are divided on this issue.
And every time Democrats offer to work together on comprehensive immigration reform – even bringing to the floor bipartisan ideas originally proposed by Republicans – the other side finds an excuse not to support change.
Yet Republicans blame Democrats for inaction.
Well, they can’t have it both ways – they can’t blame Democrats for not passing a bipartisan immigration bill when they were the ones who blocked the bill.
Moving forward, Congress has two things in its favor.
Thanks to President Obama’s decisive action, the specter of deportation no longer hangs over the heads of 800,000 young people brought to the country as children.
And the Supreme Court offered yet another affirmation that a long-term fix for our broken immigration system must come from Congress and not from the states.
Now is not the time to retreat to our corners. It’s the time to work together on a reasonable solution, one that:
- Continues to secure the borders,
- Punishes unscrupulous employers who exploit immigrants and undercut American wages,
- Improves our dysfunctional legal immigration system,
- And requires the 11 million people who are undocumented to register with the government, pay fines and taxes, learn English and get in the back of the line to obtain legal status.
If my Republican colleagues truly care about changing the status quo, they should step forward now and work with Democrats, not criticize from the sidelines.
Unfortunately, Republicans who once favored a permanent resolution for America’s broken immigration system are deserting efforts to find common ground.
And the only decisive Republican voice on this issue today seems to be Mitt Romney – who has called the unconstitutional Arizona law the “model” for reform.
Mitt Romney has also promised to veto the DREAM Act.
Democrats believe the kind of institutionalized racism in the Arizona law is hardly the “model” for reform in a country that stands for liberty and justice for all.
And we believe upstanding young people who have never known any home but the United States of America should go to college, fight for their country and contribute to society – not face deportation.
But at least we know where Mitt Romney stands on these issues, even if we disagree with him.
As long as Republicans remain unwilling to vote for comprehensive, bipartisan immigration reform, we remain at an impasse.
But I want my Republican colleagues to know this: as soon as they are willing to join us to craft a common-sense, legislative solution that is tough, fair and practical, we are ready to join them.