Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Immigration Reform is a Crucial Part of the Movement for Change

Yesterday, thousands of immigration reform advocates converged on Washington to demand that Congress and the Administration live up to their promises to take up reform, and repair our broken immigration system. And while news of this gathering of pro-reform advocates was overshadowed by the events surrounding the health care debate, it should be remembered that both of these causes are part and parcel of the greater struggle for change that brought so many together last November in the hope of setting a new agenda for the 21st century.

Despite what some claim, support for some sort of progressive immigration reform is not tantamount to calling for "open borders" , “unrestricted immigration" or as Lou Dobbs likes to claim, "importing half the population of Mexico into the US."

And while credible arguments have been made from both the left, and Libertarian right, that favor open borders and the total unrestricted flow of people, goods, and services between nations, most pro-reform advocates don't take this position.

Instead, we see our current "immigration problem" as a failure of our system to live up to its historical duty to allow for the reasonable flow of people from all over the world to come to this nation to make a better life, add vitality and diversity to our national mosaic, and join in the great American democratic experiment.

Our current immigration system is the result of laws and codes that have been cobbled together over the last fifty years. The current Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) was originally written in 1952 and has been amended and rewritten numerous times over the proceeding years. With each change, various bits and pieces were added and others removed. This has left a Byzantine system of disjointed codes and regulations that are not only unresponsive to current immigration needs, but nearly impossible to navigate or enforce. Into this vacuum left by a web of disjointed and sometimes contradictory regulations, layers of further restrictions and punitive measures have been added over time in attempts to somehow make this unworkable system work.

Clearly, a system that allows for only 5000 unskilled workers to enter the country legally, out of a total of over one million new admissions a year, is out of touch with current immigration needs. Certainly any system that has wait times of up to twenty years to allow family members to join relatives legally present in the country is not living up to the spirit of its intent.

But after years of toxic and divisive debate, are the American people ready for a real and practical discussion of this issue? Or will they get bogged down, as in the past, in meaningless sloganeering and petty tribalism and xenophobia?

The answer depends not as much on the actions of the anti-immigrant right, who will inevitably try to turn all the collective fears and insecurities of the American public towards the immigrant population, but rather on the actions of those looking for truly rational, fair, and practical reform.

As we saw in the debate over health-care reform, the lack of meaningful immigration reform in the past has left a door open for opponents of any progressive agenda to use immigration issues in attempts to stall and block much needed change.

Those looking for meaningful immigration reform must see this as a new opportunity to now reinvigorate the debate. Immigration reform must become just one element of a comprehensive plan to revitalize a new 21st century America ... just one component of an aggressive plan to address not only the nation's economic health, but its future direction.

For us to accomplish true reform, we must acknowledge that current economic conditions put this issue in a precarious position and that increased blowback from the right is inevitable. But we must also remember that despite all the divisive rhetoric we heard during this past election cycle, or during the health care debate, the majority of the public rejected the calls to tribalism, dog-whistle appeals to racism, and simplistic slogans. They want meaningful and practical change, and are willing to listen, learn, and work towards that change.

If we are to be part of that change, and make immigration reform part of a new agenda for the 21st century, we will need to take the lead, and make the American people understand that fair, practical, and humane immigration reform is a crucial component of any real and meaningful change for the future.


Brittanicus said...

INSTEAD OF JUST A CIVIL INFRACTION, ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION SHOULD BE PENALIZED AS A FELONY? THAT'S WHY THEY KEEP ON COMING? We should demand of those who represent us that E-Verify should be implemented immediately as mandatory, with no exemptions. Everybody in the workplace Must be verified. No more voluntary E-Verify? Every police department should be trained to apprehend and question any individual they see fit to check? No more of this Liberal Socialist political correctness garbage on racial profiling? We should have a federal force to audit I-9's, with the defiant ones going to prison. ICE should have larger funding with more interior and border agents, to sweep down on illegal business activities. Identify for yourself those politicians who are involved in corruption at JUDICIAL WATCH site. Our nation is silently being dismantled by the globalists and those who wave the banner for them.

Small states will miss out big time on federal dollars in the 2010 Census, while mass illegal immigrant states will gain more seats in Congress and too much power and influence in general elections? California specifically, because of the handicapped zombie Liberal Democrats In Sacramento, who should be thrown out of office into a garbage dump, owing to the billions they used underwriting the illegal alien population. They caused the financial crisis in the once-Golden state, by ignoring the millions of illegal aliens, gang bangers bleeding San Fran and Los Angeles dry of revenue. Of course ICE could check the immigration status of those who are counted, even though it's supposedly against US law? Or is counting 20 million plus (?) non-legal residence against the US Constitution? But then these politicians do not recognize what is illegal from illegal anymore? Democrats are still endeavoring to give the children of illegal immigrants, access to colleges and university. Our children should come first because we are citizens and permanent residents.

Don't let sympathy cloud your mind to our own countries deterioration, the infrastructure and uncorrectable overpopulation. Each year our State and federal taxes go ever higher, to pay for the illegal immigrants, their emergency care, education, their extended circle of relatives that enter under family reunification. THE TAXPAYER HAS BECOME THE BREADWINNERS FOR ILLEGAL ALIENS IN THIS COUNTRY AND THE WORLD. IT MUST STOP!

Anonymous said...

Honest to God. Some of us have bought into the illusion machine. Fuck immigration 'reform'. We need immigration REVOLUTION! Cautiousness is not an option. The forces of reaction and conservative nationalism are not cautious and prudent. We should be proud of the radical freedom that we represent. The founding fathers weren't cautious. John Brown wasn't cautious. The abolitionists weren't cautious. The CIO wasn't cautious in its early days. Stop being timid about the truth and justice we represent. Cautiousness and timidity never get us anywhere.

japan rail pass said...

It's a two sided coin.

There are obviously millions of illegal aliens here but I read somewhere if they were all to be sent back tomorrow, several State economies would collapse.

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RonF said...

Instead, we see our current "immigration problem" as a failure of our system to live up to its historical duty to allow for the reasonable flow of people from all over the world to come to this nation to make a better life, add vitality and diversity to our national mosaic, and join in the great American democratic experiment.

What? America has no such duty. I certainly don't see that anywhere in the Constitution. Where the heck are you getting this "duty" from? America has no "duty" or obligation to let anyone in for any reason.

Now, I believe that it is in America's interest to permit and even encourage immigration. But in doing so it's duty is to ensure that the people immigrating into the U.S. fit the U.S.'s best interests. The interests of the immigrants come second, if at all.