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Updated Nov 29, 2012 - 11:24 pm

Sen. Jon Kyl may have saved GOP

It’s been three weeks since America had a “status quo” election. And the one glaring take-away that cannot be denied is the Democrats either retained or gained more of the minority vote, which left the GOP to “brag” how older white men and older white married women stuck by their party.

That’s not something to stupidly brag about, because what it glaringly signifies is the death of the GOP if some radical thinking isn’t adopted or injected into the (ironically) Party of Lincoln.

Tentative kudos go to our own Sen. Jon Kyl, who, along with Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, took a baby step toward trying to save their party. With the unveiling of what Kyl called the Achieve Act, Republicans took a collective breath and are waiting to exhale.

It’s an alternative to the DREAM Act, and it’s a small but important start to saving the party. As Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, put so bluntly, “Either the Republicans begin to attract more Hispanics and Latinos…or they are headed the way of the dodo.”

If the GOP is to survive past 2016, it needs to start injecting common sense into its political collective and start realizing that there is no way illegal immigration will be solved the way many Republicans have recited for years. The mantra of “what part of illegal don’t you understand?” is as irrelevant as when governors and students tried to stop desegregation of public schools in the 1950s.

Kyl’s proposal isn’t radically different but it’s a small step in the right direction. It doesn’t contain the “A” word that so many Republicans hate, yet was used by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s to grant over two million illegal immigrants amnesty.

In the newly proposed Achieve Act, an illegal immigrant who was brought here as a child can get a special visa that would allow he or she to stay in the United States. That person can attend college or serve in the military and receive a green card, if he or she graduates or honorably serves.

The green card will secure his or her place in this country and allow that person to eventually become a citizen, but it’s not the clear-cut path that was included in the DREAM Act.

Thanks to a small number of old white men in the Republican Party, the word “compromise” hasn’t been uttered since Barack Obama became president. As Kyl said, “This particular piece of immigration reform seemed a logical place to begin.”

So what’s the downside to having this new version of Republican compromise? There isn’t one. Kyl is retiring. He doesn’t have to worry about losing his seat or clout to a Tea Party candidate, who could claim Kyl worked with the “other side” or he’s “not GOP enough.”

But there’s a bigger and more salient point to this legislation: If the Achieve Act passes, the GOP can use this as its true first banner moment in the 21st century as the party that got meaningful immigration reform done. Or, at least, a part of it.

Let’s face it: true immigration reform that is agreeable to both sides will never be fully realized, but this is definitely a positive step for the survival of the GOP.


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