Let the House vote on the immigration bill

Are reports true that top Democratic leaders in the US House of Representatives are deliberately attempting to bury the Simpson-Mazzoli immigration reform bill this year? A number of proponents of the legislation claim that is now occurring - and that, if the House leadership has its way, there is a strong possibility that no immigration bill will be enacted until after the 1984 election, which means 1985 or beyond.

If the reports are true, the action by top House leaders would have to be considered a cynical effort to frustrate an overriding objective of the American people: namely, restoring order on the nation's borders. Opinion polls consistently indicate that most Americans favor strong curbs on illegal immigration. The Senate has twice enacted the reform bill; the second time, this past May, by a large 76-to-l8 vote. The Reagan adminstration has also thrown its support behind the measure.

To come so close to long-overdue immigration reform - and not take final action - should be considered unthinkable. It is no exaggeration to say that the United States has lost control of its borders. No one knows how many illegal aliens are already in the US, but estimates range from 3 million to 12 million. Hundreds of thousands of new illegal immigrants continue to enter the nation annually, despite stepped-up enforcement by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

What exactly is, and is not, at issue here?

What is not at issue is stopping immigration. The legislation would provide for continued immigration into the United States, provided that the persons in question enter through legal immigration and naturalization procedures, just as millions upon millions of immigrants were required to do throughout the nation's history.

The legislation is not punitive. Just consider: It gives amnesty to most illegal aliens who entered the US before 1980. It allows such persons to apply for resident status - a step that could lead to citizenship. It also provides a broad range of protections to aliens, including the right to full judicial review in deportation cases.

What is at issue in the legislation is curbing the day-by-day flaunting of US laws and stemming the illegal tide over the borders. It would do this by applying legal sanctions against employers who knowingly and willfully hire illegals.

During the past three years the House Democratic leadership has made much of its contention that it and it alone speaks for the large majority of American people - in contrast to the Senate and White House which it has called ''insensitive'' to the public interest. If that is the case, should not the House leadership be willing to let the immigration bill come up for a full House vote? What has it to fear?

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of 5 free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.