Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal.
Telephone (310)274-8216; firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com
I wish compromise was not such a dirty word in American politics because it is the only way to get things done.
Bipartisanship in Washington is often praised and seldom rewarded. On the issue I work on the most, immigration – which is what brings me to Silicon Valley – compromise is the only thing that will get America a modern, secure, humane immigration system.
We are witnessing the most aggressively anti-immigrant presidential candidate in our lifetimes, so the prospects of reform are hard to see. But I remain optimistic about 2017 and the prospects of passing legislation.
More than most, I have worked across the political aisle on immigration reform. I have had a steadfast and brilliant partner in U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren. We identify and reach out to Republicans who want to improve our immigration system. We make a good team because we are more focused on the outcome – sound policy – than on who gets the credit.
Despite the national nativist bluster, we have found dozens of Republicans willing to work with us. Republicans know our immigration system is 30 years out of date. Most understand that fixing our legal system will go a long way towards enhancing border security and reducing illegal immigration.
And most Republicans understand the politics. The business community and other key constituencies in labor, faith, Asian, Latino and other communities want reform. In poll after poll, more than 70 percent of voters support reform, with legalization, across party lines. I think a lot of Republicans understand that the only way they will ever see the inside of the White House again is to take a more rational approach to immigration.
But for compromise to be reached in 2017, three things must happen: Trumpism has to be soundly defeated; House Republicans have to summon more courage than former Speaker John Boehner and – closely related to the first two – everyone who can vote, should vote.
I am confident Hillary Clinton will be a champion for immigration reform once elected. As a senator she was one of the first in line to work with the late Sen. Ted Kennedy and myself in 2003-2004. She will push this issue harder than President Obama did in his first years in office, and she understands compromise.
Even if Clinton defeats Trump in a landslide, we still need courage from pro-immigrant Republicans to get a bill voted on.
If the Democrats win back the House, I am confident we will get a bill passed. In the more likely scenario that Paul Ryan remains the Speaker, I am cautiously optimistic. I hope he will have the courage to do what John Boehner did not – allow a vote. But the nativists, birthers, and obstructionist wing of the GOP are energized, and the Speaker will need to stand up to them.
Business leaders, law enforcement, faith leaders and rank-and-file Republicans who support compromise, legality and progress will have to make their voices heard.
But if supporters of reform are complacent in the next few weeks, we could miss our chance. People must vote to make a clear statement that compromise is no vice.
And it does not end on Election Day. In the days after Mitt Romney’s defeat in 2012, the Congress was motivated to act on immigration reform. I expect a similar outcome this year and I expect the Republicans will want to resolve the immigration issue before another presidential election comes along.
The key will be to move quickly before members of the House start narrowing their focus on their gerrymandered districts and the midterm election. And to have the courage to compromise.
U.S. Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) is speaking at the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce at 8:30 a.m. Friday. He wrote this for The Mercury News.