I hope the country got it right last night. Not because I agree with the Republicans on the issues, but because I hope the mid-term elections bring some good to our nation.

But I fear that all we will get is continued gridlock and political posturing in preparation for 2012.  We can all agree to disagree on health care, the stimulus, the war in Afghanistan, etc.  But when it comes to the need to fix our dysfunctional immigration system—the nonpartisan issue that unites many of us—I have difficulty seeing the good in last night’s election results.

I worry that Rep. Lamar Smith, the expected chair of the House Judiciary Committee, will use his gavel not to fashion an historic overhaul of the broken immigration system, but to thwart any meaningful effort to fix it; that he will take us back to the mean spiritedness that resulted in the passage of the infamous H.R. 4437 which would have criminalized the undocumented.  I fear that Rep. Steve King, the likely chair of the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law, will use his newfound subpoena power not to design a safe, orderly, and fair immigration policy for America, but to embarrass the Administration by dragging President Obama’s aunt up to Capitol Hill to interrogate her about her asylum status.

I hope I am wrong.  I hope the new House majority will seize the opportunity to do the right thing and reach across the aisle for the good of the country.

The voters spoke loud and clear yesterday. This election was about the economy; about jobs in the midst of a jobless recovery.  But now it is time to set aside partisanship for the good of the country.  And that includes working in a bipartisan way to fashion an immigration policy that will,

  • Attract the best and the brightest to our universities, research institutions and industries;
  • Create a system for skilled and unskilled workers that promotes our economy and enables employers to grow their businesses;
  • Legalize 11 million unauthorized immigrants whose full participation in the US workforce will increase the wages and working conditions of all Americans by adding $1.7 trillion to the gross domestic product over the next 10 years, add $5 billion in consumer spending, and create nearly a million jobs; and, of course,
  • Zealously guard due process and the rule of law.

In 1989, in his final address to the nation, President Ronald Reagan described his vision of America as a shining city, humming with commerce and creativity, where “the doors were open to anyone with the heart to get here.”  He understood that our nation’s strength is its openness; its celebration of creativity and new ideas.

We can only hope that those who claim his legacy heed his lesson.