EDITORIAL: Moreno not constructive on immigration bill

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 17, 2024

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach Homeland Security Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas, the first impeachment of a cabinet position from the White House in more than a century.

The move was largely seen as a show vote on the issue of immigration, with Republicans basing their move on a claim that Mayorkas had failed in his duties, but not providing any evidence of an actual crime, let alone the “high crimes and misdemeanors” the U.S. constitution specifies for impeachment. 

Those voting for the impeachment, which is not expected to go anywhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate, claimed Mayorkas had failed to curtail a surge in illegal border crossings.

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If the issue was truly as important to them as they claim, then perhaps Republicans would then push for constructive solutions on the matter.

But that does not appear to be the case, as the same party has basically killed a bipartisan bill, which has been backed by the National Border Patrol Council, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other entities that hardly qualified as liberal ideologues.

Even the conservative FOX News Channel stated the bill would bring about an overhaul of immigration laws and provide “tougher and quicker” enforcement measures.

Instead of backing a bill created by members of both parties, Republicans instead blocked passage of the legislation.

The remarks of one of the opponents pretty much laid out why the party was doing this.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, openly stated that he did not want to see the legislation pass because it could be seen as a victory for President Joe Biden, afraid “it makes the president look good” if it were to make it through Congress.

For decades, Ohio was blessed with two U.S. senators from opposing political parties, Democrat Sherrod Brown and Republican Rob Portman, and both always rose above such petty theatrics.

While they disagreed on much, they were often able to find common ground, crafting and/or supporting legislation such as the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the CHIPS and Science Act and others that have directly benefited Ohio in the past few years since their passage.

The two served as a model for the rest of the country in showing that those who disagree can work beyond party labels and make positive change happen.

Unfortunately, with Portman’s 2022 retirement and the election of his Republican successor, JD Vance, the state can no longer claim to have two senators with such an emphasis on being productive legislators.

Vance joined Republicans who moved to kill the legislation.

And this goes for one of the Senate hopefuls who is aiming to replace Brown this year.

Businessman Bernie Moreno topped the knee-jerk statements of opposition in announcing that he opposed the legislation, before the full text of the bill even came out.

Moreno has also called the legislation “an abomination,” “370 pages of garbage” and “a total and complete disgrace.” 

This is a rather blanket dismissal of a package that includes key legislation that a bipartisan group has advocated for to help combat the opioid crisis that has plagued Ohio these past several years.

The FEND Off Fentanyl Act, included in the legislation, is a package of sanctions and anti-money laundering laws which would target illegal fentanyl suppliers in China who transport the drug into the U.S. via Mexico.

The epidemic has impacted nearly everyone in the state (and especially here in Lawrence County) – with most people knowing a family member, friend or associate who has fought addiction. 

Does Moreno include these measures, crafted, in part by his fellow Republican Tim Scott, to be the “garbage” he claimed the bill was composed of?

Moreno has shown that he has little interest in any bipartisanship, stating he has no interest in working with the other party, if elected.

The late, great political columnist Molly Ivins, an expert on chronicling legislative shenanigans, once offered wise advice on these kinds of matters.

“Listen to the people who are talking about how to fix what’s wrong, not the ones who just work people into a snit over the problems,” Ivins wrote. “Listen to the people who have ideas about how to fix things, not the ones who just blame others.”

It appears she described Moreno, Grassley and opponents of the legislation to a tee.

If Moreno truly wants to tackle the border, then perhaps he should demonstrate a more serious approach, rather than nonstop opposition, negative campaigning and a lack of workable solutions.

Our country is currently polarized and divided on a level not seen since the Civil War, with government mire in unproductive gridlock.

Moreno’s approach to this legislation bodes ill for any hope that he would do anything but worsen that problem on any issue, should he get into office.