It's almost Christmas, the House has left town for the holidays, and many American families are wondering whether they'll get a visit from Santa Claus or the dreaded Grinch -- that nasty old creature with a heart two sizes too small.
Every day the Grinch wreaks havoc on thousands of American families. Disguised as an unforgiving and inflexible immigration law, he thinks nothing of ruining lives, sometimes banging on the door of a home in the wee hours of the morning to take away a father, mother, sister, brother or grandparent who doesn't have proper immigration documents or is unlucky enough to be at the wrong end of a deportation order. And he does so at the astounding rate of 1,120 deportations a day. In fact, if the Grinch is not stopped soon, he will have removed 2 million people by Christmas -- many of whom came to America to build a better life for themselves and their children, like so many immigrants before them.
Sadly, before the House went home this week, there was someone who missed an opportunity to stop the Grinch this year. That man is Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), Speaker of the House of Representatives. With the snap of his fingers, Mr. Boehner could have calmed the fears of millions of American families by allowing the House to vote on a comprehensive immigration reform bill -- one which was sure to have passed.
But Speaker Boehner refused to act, bowing to the will of extremists in his party -- "the Grinches in the House" -- who themselves offer no positive immigration solutions but are quick to obstruct any proposal that provides a safe, orderly, and fair immigration system for the nation.
Of course, the GOP leadership talked a good game as they turned out the lights at the Capitol to head home for the holidays. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said that immigration reform should be a priority for 2014. But the House GOP's slow walking has contributed to nearly 200,000 deportations since the Senate passed its bipartisan immigration bill in June. This is unacceptable in a country that President Reagan once imagined would welcome "anyone with the will and the heart to get here."
Happily, there is still time for Speaker Boehner to show real leadership, even before Congress returns next year. He can take immediate action to help ensure that millions of American families remain safe and together during the holidays while the nation waits for the House to pass immigration reform. As a show of good faith, Speaker Boehner should ask the administration to give a temporary deportation reprieve to all undocumented immigrants who would qualify for provisional immigration status under the House and Senate bills.
Everyone agrees that the immigration system is broken and must be fixed. It's unfair to continue destroying families just because the House hasn't finished its job. And until it does, America's leaders -- in Congress and the White House -- should work together to stop removing people who may not have the right papers but contribute to our nation's social, economic and cultural fabric.
I'm willing to bet that if Speaker Boehner allows himself to feel the injustice and pain caused by America's broken immigration system, then his heart, like the mean old Grinch's, just might grow three full sizes. Maybe then he'll do what's in his power to make sure that Christmas is not once again stolen from the most vulnerable among us.
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