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Hope for Immigration Reform

TimesLedger Newspapers

Reports that a bipartisan group of U.S. senators has made progress on a plan to overhaul the nation’s immigration system should be welcome news not only to the thousands of illegal immigrants living in Queens, but to everyone who has a heart.

The sweeping overhaul would enable the millions of immigrants who entered this country illegally to gain legal status without the fear of deportation. Republicans reportedly agreed to the deal contingent upon stronger enforcement at the nation’s borders.

This is not a done deal and we expect resistance from conservative Republicans and the Tea Party. But the GOP is beginning to realize its influence is dwindling and that its tough stand on immigration is a battle it cannot win.

Two Republican leaders have signed onto the plan. Arizona Sen. John McCain said on ABC’s “This Week” that his party was losing “the Hispanic vote, which we think should be ours.”

He added what should be obvious to everyone: “We can’t go on forever with 11 million people living in this country in the shadows in an illegal status.”

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a Cuban American, insists immigrants who gain legal status should “be required to go to the back of the line” behind other immigrants who applied to come through legal channels.

They can’t even get in the line now.

Hopefully, the nightmare for the borough’s illegal immigrants will soon be over. They can be seen every morning standing at curbsides waiting to be picked up to do labor. If this agreement becomes law, they will be able to work on the books.

Hopefully, they will become eligible for medical coverage, taking a burden off Queens hospitals, which lose millions of dollars now by treating this population in emergency rooms without hope of reimbursement.

The federal government will no longer be in the awkward position of breaking up families by deporting parents whose children are American citizens because they were born here.

It remains unclear what will happen in cases where men crossed the border illegally to find work so they could send money back to their families. Other details need to be resolved.

But the bipartisan framework that has been agreed to is a good start.

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