Linda Chavez

But with or without legislation, the immigration issue itself won't go away. Some 11 million undocumented people will continue to live inside of our borders but outside of our laws. While most of the adults in this group work, they do so illegally, and though most pay taxes, not all of them do. If immigration reform passed, all would pay taxes, thus lightening the load for the rest of us. You would think the tea party would approve. Do any of us benefit from depriving able-bodied individuals from earning their own living, taking care of their families and paying their fair share of taxes?

Boehner hurt his party (and the country) by abdicating to a minority within it during the shutdown. He allowed a vocal few to outshout the interests of the American people. Time will tell whether the damage done to the GOP is irreparable. But it is bound to be harder to fix the longer party leaders wait to do something.

There is no principled reason why Republicans should be against reforming our broken immigration system. And simply throwing more money at enforcement, which has been the Republican stance for the past decade, hasn't worked.

The Senate bill is far from perfect, but the Republican-controlled House has yet to produce anything better. At a minimum, Boehner should be leading his members to pass a bill that includes more visas to deal with labor shortages at both the high- and low-skilled ends of the spectrum; immediate legal status for illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children; and a path to legalization and citizenship for illegal immigrants who've worked hard, paid taxes and stayed out of trouble.

The GOP would be doing itself a favor by embracing legislation that nearly everyone wants and that the economy desperately needs. But first, Republican leaders must resist the siren call of those who have already done it so much damage.

Linda Chavez

Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .

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