27 Jan



 Posted Sunday, January 27, 2019

Although Congress passed a short-term solution to the government shutdown, over the past few weeks, Americans have been forced to endure a government shutdown which has taken a toll on everyone, especially those federal employees and their families, many of whom were one day away from financial ruin. Yet, knowing the harm that this shutdown, and other shutdowns have caused, and will continue to cause, members of Congress and the president refused to talk, not because a solution could not have been negotiated, but rather, because there was an unwillingness on both sides of the aisle to admit that maybe, just maybe, both sides were to blame for the immigration mess in this country.

So, one is left to ask whether there was ever a time in history when we America faced a similar immigration problem, albeit on a much smaller scale, a time when both sides of the aisle came together and reached a bipartisan solution, a solution which did not include holding federal employees and Americans hostage to petty partisan politics.  The simple answer is that there was a time in history when both sides of the political aisle were able reach bipartisan solutions, a time when both sides would join hands and solve problems, not create them.

Of course, the starting point for any solution is an understanding of the word “bipartisan.”  Apparently, many on both sides of the aisle have either never heard the word bipartisan or if they have heard the word, they do not understand the definition of the word which is actually very simple. The Meriam Webster dictionary defines bipartisan as “of, relating to, or involving members of two parties…specifically: marked by or involving cooperation, agreement, and compromise between two major political parties.”

So, the rhetorical question all Americans should ask themselves is whether there will ever be a solution which would end these unnecessary shutdowns and impasses, shutdowns which hold federal employees, their families and Americans hostage?  The answer might be as simple as turning back the clock and adopting the bipartisan solution which was reached by members of Congress in 1986 when Congress appointed a bipartisan Commission on Immigration Reform.  The result of the bipartisan efforts of Congress resulted in the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, an act which was passed by the United States Senate with a vote of 69 to 30 and a vote of 230 to 166 in the House of Representatives.

After Congress reached a bipartisan solution, President Ronald Reagan said the following when the Act was signed into law, “The legalization provisions in this act will go far to improve the lives of a class of individuals who now must hide in the shadows, without access to many of the benefits of a free and open society. Very soon many of these men and women will be able to step into the sunlight and, ultimately, if they choose, they may become Americans.”

So, on behalf of all federal employees, their families, and Americans, it is time to return to those good old days of bipartisan solutions to our immigration problems, it is time to dust off the history books and consider a solution which mirrors the bipartisan efforts of Congress in 1986.  It is time to end partisan fights, it is time to reach across the aisle, it time to join hands, it is time to solve problems, not create them.

On a final note, maybe it is also time to consider the words Hubert Humphrey, the 38th Vice President of the United States and a United States Senator from Minnesota, a man who devoted his life of public service, a man who found solutions, a man who will always be remembered for his tireless efforts to bring both sides of the aisle together; in the words of Hubert Humphrey, “It is not enough to merely defend democracy. To defend it may be to lose it; to extend it is to strengthen it. Democracy is not property; it is an idea.”

So, as I often do, I would invite each of you to my imaginary mountaintop, a place where all Americans can join me as we shout loudly to both sides of the aisle that it is time to end partisan fights; it is time to reach across the aisle; it time to join hands; it is time to solve problems, not create them.

Mark Wohlander, a former FBI agent and federal prosecutor, practices law in Lexington, Kentucky.

More of Mark’s columns available at fivesmoothstonesky.com.

* The email will not be published on the website.