The nation's slowly rebounding economy, while welcome, has exposed a missed opportunity.
When jobs were hard to find, illegal immigration dropped. The economic trough was the perfect time for federal lawmakers to restructure immigration policies and tighten border security.
Now, the number of immigrants in the country without authorization is on the rise, according to the Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project. And with them will come the social and economic issues that revolve around immigrants putting down roots without legal authorization to be here.
Nice going, Washington.
Just this week, House Democrats introduced a comprehensive immigration measure that included a piece on border security that enjoyed bipartisan support when it passed out of a House committee in May.
Sounds like a winner, right?
The way things are going in the nation's capital, it seems there is almost nothing of broad national import that could get through both houses of Congress.
The House bill's border security element would require a 90 percent apprehension rate on the southwest border in five years.
In totality, the House bill is similar to a immigration measure introduced in the Senate. But the House version eliminates a $46 billion plan that would have doubled the number of agents patrolling the border.
One way or another, there will be a cost attached to increasing southwest border security, which the U.S. government considers 84 percent "effective." While the House measure doesn't include a big number for border security, lawmakers ought to be prepared for a hefty pricetag.
Truth is, the political problem isn't a lack on consensus on borders being tightly guarded. It centers on whether to take on reform in one sweeping measure or piece by piece.
While Republicans have a good point in saying each piece could be focused on separately, Democrats are understandably distrustful about a process that could leave elements they favor, such as a path to citizenship, languishing for years.
Given the acrimony in Washington, we cannot envision a piecemeal process ending in cohesive policy addressing the spectrum of issues posed by illegal immigration.
Lawmakers need to take on the issue in all its complexity and pass a broad bill or face disgust from a public that sees them as increasingly incapable of governing.