Immigration reform: A victory for the moral conscience of America

The fact is that the loss of Reps. John Carter (R-Texas) and Sam Johnson (R-Texas) does not significantly change the dynamics playing out in the House. It does represent the final two nails in the coffin of the comprehensive House "Gang of Eight," (or Gang of Seven, or Gang of Five), immigration bill. That bill is dead as a doornail. But the prospects of immigration reform getting introduced and passed through the House are, in my humble opinion, quite strong.

I am certain that the prospects for a conservative, thoughtful, and most importantly moral, step by step series of bills to emerge on the House floor before the end of October is quite likely. These bills will be tough, rigorous, detail oriented, and most importantly effective. When the House is finished working through their series of bills they will have, in effect, shut the flow of new future illegal immigration to a trickle, at most.  These bills will tackle the issues of border security and interior enforcement of immigration laws - including rules that will encourage states to be, in effect, "force multipliers" by allowing states and localities to enact laws that mirror but do not exceed the new federal laws.  These bills will include mandatory electronic worksite enforcement, E-Verify, a free-market based guest worker program, a free market based agricultural worker bill, a strong high skilled Visa program, a bill that addresses an earned pathway to citizenship for "Dreamers," and finally a very conservative bill allowing for the earned legalization - but no "special pathway to citizenship" for those among the 11,000,000 undocumented immigrants who qualify.

I applaud the growing caucus of courageous and thoughtful members of the House GOP that have worked long and hard to "get this right." In doing so, these champions have proven themselves to be principled and conservative leaders. They love and care about this country, and they understand that we are a nation built on immigration.....LEGAL immigration. The prospects for this series of bills are really quite strong. The advocate community of principled leaders in the faith, law enforcement and business communities have proven their points, and have cleared the political pathway forward for these bills to happen. The traditional opponents of "amnesty" can also take heart in the fact that they have influenced this debate, and not only will enforcement come first in the House process, the end result will in no way resemble an amnesty. This process will insure that we will end the scourge of illegal immigration for the foreseeable future, and that is a very good thing. It will also ensure that we will remain a nation of immigrants, but America will have taken complete control over the process. We will have future immigration, but the numbers of new immigrants will be tied to our economy. We will have no more, and no less immigration that what our nation needs. Again, that is a very good thing. It is an extremely important development for the sake of our economic future as the most prosperous nation in the history of the world.

However, the ultimate victory will be for the moral conscience of our nation. We will have struggled through the reality of our having 11,000,000 undocumented immigrants, and perhaps another 20,000,000 of their documented family members, living desperate lives in the shadows of our society, and in the shadows of the American Dream. We will have emerged through this very difficult and complex national debate as a stronger nation - having reconciled our allegiance to our being a nation of laws, with the urgent moral need to provide a mechanism that allows this shadow society an earned opportunity for reconciliation, and for a fresh and real chance to seek their own American Dream. Ultimately, we will have proven to the world that American remains, indeed, that shining city standing prominently on a hill.

Gittelson is vice president for Governmental Affairs at the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.