Budget negotiations may be far from over and there is still plenty at stake for the Latino community as Congress considers whether to implement the next round of sequestration cuts. But, at the very least, the government is finally open again and Congress can get back to work.
At the top of the agenda sits immigration reform. It has been nearly four months since the Senate passed a bipartisan bill to overhaul and modernize the country’s outdated immigration system. Yet, the House of Representatives has not acted. Democrats have introduced a bipartisan proposal—it is due time for Republicans to either get to work on that bill, or put their own solution forward.
There is no more time for excuses. Too much of the nation’s time and money has been wasted for the sake of scoring cheap political points. Americans are tired of partisanship and obstruction and want a government that is going to produce solutions.
In the wake of last week’s budget deal, President Obama reminded the American people that immigration reform is still at the top of the agenda for this year. Some members of Congress, still reeling from failing to block the deal that reopened government, immediately started claiming that immigration reform is unlikely. But they should heed the lesson of this last standoff: that’s not how a responsible government functions. The nation has seen the havoc that a small group of stubborn lawmakers can create by taking the economy hostage; we’re not going to allow them to take immigration reform hostage too.
The forces pushing for reform, which represent every segment of American society, will not stop demanding resolution because of a few naysayers. Together we will continue to visit every district, where we will hold vigils, roundtables, rallies and events to send a clear message to Congress that inaction is not an option.
We know that there are cooler heads in Washington on both sides of the aisle that understand the economic and political imperatives for pushing reform to the finish line. And they happen to also represent a majority in the House.
The American people want immigration reform and the economy needs it. As for Latinos, we have demonstrated that this issue is a galvanizing measuring stick for our electorate and want real reform passed—for those who played a pivotal role in the last two elections, and for the nearly 900,000 Latino citizens becoming eligible to vote each year. Based on their abysmal approval ratings, the last thing members of Congress need are more dissatisfied constituents.
The path is clear. Congress must get back to work and swiftly resume negotiations on immigration reform. We haven’t let up over the past year, and we have no plans of stopping now.