Editorial: Immigration reform should be S.C. focus

  • Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 12:01 a.m.

Republicans have drawn their line in the sand. Immigration reform won’t happen this year, largely because they don’t trust President Barack Obama to carry out any law they might enact. However, such a mentality shouldn’t stop GOP leaders, particularly in South Carolina, from getting feedback and finding the best solution to the problem.

U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., for instance, had the right idea last week by holding a town hall meeting in Gaffney to answer questions from Latinos. The Congressman from Lancaster County actually spoke with meeting participants entirely in Spanish, according to the New York Times.

This kind of open dialogue needs to be a mission of the state’s entire delegation. South Carolina business leaders have already pleaded with Congress to consider immigration legislation – collectively agreeing during a meeting in Columbia this year that the country’s policies are broken.

The politics of immigration are undoubtedly changing. While the details certainly need to be formulated, many, including members of the GOP, have indicated that deporting 11.7 million illegal immigrants isn’t wholly feasible and a legal path to citizenship is warranted.

That doesn’t mean Congress should rush through immigration reform merely because there’s growing support for a fix. But laying a framework for the future is undoubtedly necessary for our country’s future.

Some of the blame for the lack of comprehensive reform has rested on the shoulders of Obama. The executive changes made by the president toward his signature law – the Affordable Care Act – has created a slippery slope for bipartisan action in the minds of some members of the GOP.

While that may be the case, manufacturers, farmers and the tourism industry, even in South Carolina, are increasingly becoming more vocal about the need for a comprehensive immigration bill. This week, more than 600 business organizations, from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to McDonald’s, actually sent a letter to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner urging him to move on immigration legislation this year.

It’s undeniable that some kind of overhaul is needed and talk of such change has persisted for years. What that reform will look like should be a focal point for Congress sooner rather than later.

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