Take It From Two Governors: The Time for Immigration Reform Is Now

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For the good of the nation, it’s time to get behind the bipartisan immigration deal that is making its way through Congress.

As Northeastern governors, we empathize with our colleagues in the Southwest. If we were governors in that region, we’d be frustrated and exhausted by the failure of the federal government too.

The truth is, all of America pays a price for this failure. For too long, too many politicians in Washington have been unwilling to fix the problem. Meaningful efforts have been derailed by partisanship on both sides of the aisle.

Today, surges if migrants are reaching record highs. Consider this: between October 2022 and September 2023, 2.47 million migrants attempted to cross the southern border, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Many are fleeing violence, while others are trying to leave poverty behind. And far too many are risking their lives and those of their loved ones—desperate to come to America in hope of a better life.

Pro-immigrant protesters hold up signs near Shelby Park in Eagle Pass, Texas, on Feb. 4.

SERGIO FLORES/AFP via Getty Images

The endless possibilities for economic mobility in America motivate almost all of those traveling north.

At the same time, our nation has an imperative to know who is traveling here at all times. Americans must go through layers and layers of security at our airports. Yet, every day untold numbers of people slip across our border totally undetected.

It makes no sense.

Rather than adopting commonsense, bipartisan solutions, Congress has allowed extreme voices, in both parties, to further divide us on the issue to score political points in elections. Even worse, some politicians demonize immigrants seeking the security and opportunity citizenship provides. While others say those who want to secure our borders are inhumane, heartless, or anti-American.

Politics has poisoned the conversation.

Enough is enough.

It’s time for Washington to lead on this issue and pass bipartisan reforms to secure the border and restore an orderly immigration system that reflects America’s values as a welcoming nation of freedom-loving immigrants.

By all accounts, bipartisan negotiations are bearing fruit and, once again, an agreement is within reach.

Both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue—the Congress and the White House—need to follow through and finish the job. This should not be a repeat of 2013, when politics de-railed a bipartisan agreement to further foment and weaponize the anger this issue generates out on the campaign trail.

Congress must not repeat this mistake.

The agreement currently being crafted would empower any president to shut down the border when necessary. President Biden has pledged to use this new power on day one to shut down and secure the border. And that is exactly what is necessary—a full reset of the border—to secure it. And if he doesn’t, he has said it’s on him.

Congress has the opportunity to solve a problem for which states, and their governors are rightly demanding solutions, and to show the American people that Washington can work together to make real progress. Not doing so will only deepen distrust and cynicism.

The bottom line is this: Immigration isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue. It’s a security and humanitarian issue. It’s one that requires us to open our hearts while demanding federal government accountability. And for far too long, it has been an issue that Democrats have swept under the rug, while Republicans have deployed it as political hyperbole.

We can do better—with both sides taking a step to meet in the middle.

We have an obligation to American citizens, as well as those who aspire to citizenship, to do better. No migrant child should ever go hungry or sleep in the street. But we also can’t shortchange or cut funding for our own kids because we have an unmanageable border crisis.

Please, for America, get this work done now.

Gov. Ned Lamont, a Democrat, is Connecticut’s 89th governor. Since taking office in 2019, he has worked across party lines to deliver record tax cuts, pay down debt, and grow jobs.

Republican Gov. Phil Scott became the 82nd governor of Vermont in 2017. He previously served three terms as Vermont’s lieutenant governor, five terms as a state senator for Washington County, and owned a construction company for more than 30 years.

The views expressed in this article are the writers’ own.