Monday, April 29, 2013

A real expert

Before the Gang of Eight assembled, which includes our two U.S. Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery was busy working with former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and community leaders in the Real Arizona Coalition on an Arizona-based immigration plan. The plan, dubbed with the acronym S.A.N.E. for its focus on security, accountability, its necessity and engagement across all levels of government, has much in common with the Gang of Eight proposal, but it also has some additional useful ideas that could help move the debate forward at a federal level.

While the Arizona Chamber and most major business groups strongly back the new Senate bill, the U.S. House will also play a critical role. A reasonable roadmap forward is for a bill to be thoughtfully considered in the Senate and hopefully pass with a robust bipartisan vote count.  

Although I am not a political science major, both houses of Congress must pass a bill for it to be transmitted to the president and signed in to law. From numerous meetings with House Republican offices and experts in this area, it is apparent to me that the House will work on its own bill or a set of bills that could at some point come together as a package. The end result could actually be a conference committee where selected members of the House and Senate will convene to work out a final proposal that would be voted on and, if all goes well, reach the president.

After listening to the county attorney at a couple of venues last week in Washington, D.C., including an appearance at the National Press Club, I believe that he can play a key role in refining the border security portions, which is practically a prerequisite to get the bill passed in the House. This West Point graduate has the chops and experience to inject useful ideas that will make our border more secure and complete the puzzle on immigration reform.

County Attorney Montgomery said there was more in the U.S. Senate proposal that he liked than did not like. He discussed the security aspects of what is needed in immigration reform with clarity and conviction. 

Gang of Eight member Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) calls the Senate proposal a "starting point." If Congress does its work on immigration reform, we have the potential to get a great product out that ignites our economy and dramatically improves our border security. To get this done in the best possible fashion, it is worthwhile to tap the expertise of our country attorney in the security elements of the bill.

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