Illustration by Maren Slobody
Illustration by Maren Slobody

The Gang of Eight, a bipartisan group of eight senators, is currently negotiating on new immigration legislation to introduce to Congress. Obama gave his word that if these senators acted in a timely manner, he would not submit his own legislation. Despite claiming to be open to these bipartisan efforts at an immigration plan, the Obama administration has leaked a draft of an immigration bill anyway. City on a Hill Press would like Obama to set a good precedent for the rest of his second term by being more open to, and patient with, efforts toward bipartisan agreement.

The Obama Administration is adamant that this recently leaked draft of the immigration bill was not purposely released. Whether or not this slip-up was intentional, it doesn’t reflect a willingness on Obama’s part to stick to his promises and work peacefully with bipartisan efforts. Republicans in the senate, and particularly Marco Rubio, R-Florida, have expressed feelings that this draft blatantly ignores their desires and seems like Obama’s way of pressuring the committee currently negotiating immigration legislation.

The White House’s proposed draft of the bill would have offered an eight-year pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants as well as required employers to be aware of their employees’ immigration status and possible violation of immigration law. While a streamlined eight-year pathway to citizenship may seem like a reasonable solution to the question of illegal immigration, the legislation ignores issues that arose with previous laws — such as the advantages created for those who illegally immigrated that aren’t provided to law-abiders.

Republicans are outraged by the bill’s ignorance of their demands to tighten down on border security and prevent further violation of immigration law before jumping into loosening the restrictions on acquiring citizenship. Assuming that Obama really never meant for this proposal to see the light of day, it was irresponsible to let it become widely disseminated throughout the White House when it blatantly turns a blind eye to a workable and agreeable solution.

Marco Rubio has asserted that the Obama administration knew full well that this legislation would be dead on arrival in Congress given the GOP’s interests in the issue. If the Republicans have expressed their concerns and desires to Obama regarding an immigration plan, there is no excusable reason to be hostile toward the efforts at a bipartisan resolution.

The future for progress in social issues such as immigration seems brighter every year, and at the outset of his second term, Obama has been very vocal about improving the state of social justice in the country in many ways. We at City on a Hill Press look forward to this and applaud Obama for committing his second term to increasing equality for all — however a push for equality will need to start with equal and fair proceedings in government.

Obama should have been more impeccable with his word, exercised greater responsibility and given the bipartisan committee an opportunity to draft immigration legislation. The next four years will be long and eventful, and the president must take every chance he is given to litigate and try to come to satisfactory compromises. Here’s to hoping the rest of Obama’s time as president won’t be marred by deadlocked negotiations and disagreements that only stall progress even more.