Steve Rose

An immigration solution to please both sides: permanent resident program

Republicans who believe that they can never win another presidential election, given the number of Hispanics who vote Democratic, will be shooting themselves in the foot if they grant amnesty and, thus, give citizenship to millions more Hispanics, who then will be eligible to vote — and probably will vote overwhelmingly Democratic.

Rather, the compromise is staring us in the face. The answer is permanent residency — the “green card” — which would give illegal immigrants the ability to live indefinitely in the United States (which can be revoked because of a number of circumstances) and to receive all the benefits of a citizen, but would not give them the right to vote.

This would be fair treatment for those who have already developed their working lives and established family ties under a “wink-wink” system that our country has somewhat encouraged. But it would not bestow upon them the same rights as people who came here legally.

Hispanics have a history of voting overwhelmingly for Democrats running for president, but some refuse to accept that.

The Republican Central Committee, The Wall Street Journal, and evangelists like Ralph Reed, as well as many Republican leaders, hold onto the belief that if the GOP granted amnesty, they then would be in the good graces of Hispanics and, thus, win over a larger percentage of their vote.

They are kidding themselves.

When Ronald Reagan granted amnesty, it had no effect on voting patterns. Hispanics stuck with the Democrats running for president in large majorities, before and since.

Adding more Hispanics to the voting rolls will only make the task of electing a Republican president more difficult. Those long beleaguered immigrants probably would vote for Democrats in much larger percentages than their brethren, given the vitriol that has come from many Republicans in the fight over illegal immigration. My guess is currently undocumented immigrants will have long memories.

Permanent residency solves two dilemmas. One, it keeps the vast majority of likely Democrats off the voting rolls.

Two, it makes it much more likely for immigration reform to pass the House. We undoubtedly do need comprehensive immigration reform to deal with the 11 million illegal immigrants who live in this country.

It is highly unlikely that amnesty will be granted in the U.S. House of Representatives where the Speaker of the House John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, has said he will not even bring immigration reform to the floor, unless he has a majority of Republicans voting for it.

That will be tough, if not impossible.

As an example, the three Republican congressmen from this metropolitan area — Sam Graves, Vicky Hartzler, and Kevin Yoder – have taken very hardline positions against amnesty. And none of them even represents a border state!

Those are but three examples, in our own backyard, of how difficult it would be to harness a majority of Republicans to vote for amnesty.

Permanent residency, on the other hand, may be do-able, though it is no sure thing.

There are plenty of Americans who would balk over granting even permanent residency.

They are not realistic.

Many of us are in favor of building a mile-high and mile-wide fence across 2,000 miles of border. Many of us are in favor of securing the border as airtight as possible, before major immigration reforms are implemented.

But once the border is secured, we need to deal with the 11 million people living in nowhere land.

A reasonable solution to an untenable situation is permanent residency.