Six years after the last failure, a new Immigration Bill - the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act - finally passed the Senate yesterday, hopefully launching some 11 million undocumented persons, presently living and working at society’s margins, on a path to legal residency and eventually U.S. citizenship. The bill passed the Senate 68 to 32. All 54 Democrats and 14 Republicans voted in favor of the Bill that had been carefully crafted and then ably shepherded through the Senate by the so-called "gang of eight" -- Senators John McCain (R-Arizona), Marco Rubio (R-Florida., Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Michael Bennet (D-Colorado). The gang of eight’s four Republicans were joined in voting "yes" by 10 other Republican Senators – including, I am happy to report, Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker.
As a grandson of immigrants myself, I can only applaud and give thanks that this first step has been taken to restoring some sanity to our immigration system. Admittedly, such is the degree of chronic dysfunction in Washington that in order to move forward with such a sensible solution to this long festering national problem some other, notably less sensible provisions had to be incorporated – for example, throwing lots of unnecessary money at “border security,” in order to please people who ordinarily claim that they want to cut government spending and not increase it! But even that would be well worth the price to make progress toward restoring America’s authentic character as a land of immigrants.
It’s rare nowadays good to get such good news out of the Senate. The big challenge, of course, will be whether it will be possible to get good news even out of the House! But for the moment good news is good news – hope for millions of our undocumented neighbors and hope for a severely challenged political system that it might again rediscover the proper purposes of politics.