Friday, August 21, 2009

How about a "temporary bail out" for immigrants

On Thursday, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and senior White House and DHS staff met with about 100 immigrant advocates and leaders from faith, business, law enforcement, and labor to reassure them that the administration is still serious about fulfilling its promise to enact immigration reform. So serious in fact, President Obama took time away from his battle for healthcare reform to make an unexpected appearance before the group and reiterate his commitment to getting immigration legislation passed in 2010.

And of course when all was said and done, those in attendance thanked Napolitano and Obama for again telling them that they have not been forgotten. Press releases and statements were quickly penned, each guardedly optimistic, yet appreciative of the attention paid the issue by the administration.

But for the thirty-odd-thousand souls held in detention each day …

or - those who will be stopped tomorrow at some arbitrary traffic stop, set up to single out those with foreign sounding accents or names, or a little too much melanin, and then subject them to interrogation and intimidation …

or - those waiting patiently for the government to reexamine a policy that deports children, who've lived here almost all of their lives, to countries they've never known...

or - for the millions relegated to the shadows where abuse and violence have become the norm…

There was little to rejoice about after Thursday's meeting.

For them it just means more waiting, more worrying, more vague promises … more of the same.

But it doesn't have to be that way.

When the economy began to crumble, and banks, brokers, and insurance companies began to go under due to gross mismanagement, incompetence, bad planning, and failed business models, the government JUMPED.

Both the previous administration, and the current one, did everything in their power to prevent the situation from deteriorating further. Trillions were pumped into the economy, billions to individual companies, rules and regulations were modified and changed ….all, because the government claimed million could loose their homes and fortunes.

When the auto companies started to go under after years of ignoring the obvious; that their business models were unattainable, and their practices unprofitable … the government again stepped up, and did everything in its power to prevent their collapse claiming millions of jobs were at stake.

Yet, when the government itself oversees policies that are every bit as flawed in both theory and practice as any we saw from Wall Street. or in Detroit, does it jump to action and attempt to fix them?

Does it recognize its own mismanagement or gross incompetence?

Why is it that when the private sector failed miserably, this administration could quickly jump to action, analyze the problem, assess accountability, and offer up solutions to stop the suffering of millions, yet, when the public sector is failing, they drag their feet, leave failed policies in place, and hunker down?

Just as they were willing to put temporary stop-gap measures in place to fix the economy… why can they not do they same now for those suffering from their inability to fix the immigration system?

It seems simple enough to me.

Call it what you want … "enforcement relief," … "a temporary moratorium" … (let the PR people loose, I'm sure they can come up with a catchy phrase that will work). But the bottom line is it's time to stop the arbitrary enforcement of laws all admit must be changed.

It's time for this administration to stop asking migrants to suffer quietly and wait until the "political climate" is right before getting any relief.

If this administration can't deliver on its promises now because Congress is too busy, or other priorities must be dealt with first, or the President has too much on his plate …. fine. But they can no longer bide time on the backs of those held in prisons for profit, or those being deported under laws all admit must change, or those waiting patiently to come out of the shadows.

Simply saying that you recognize that the system is failed and that the laws must change is no longer enough. It's time for action NOW.

Nearly 40 years ago John Kerry asked "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"…Today we ask "Who will be the last migrant deported or jailed for a law that is a mistake."

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Duke, I respect your outrage--our enforcement system commits injustices daily and is making the country a less hospitable place not just for immigrants but for entire communities that suffer from separated families, racial profiling, and from a distrust of law enforcement.

True, the meeting is nothing to be excited about but it feels far too soon to take a frustrated position to the administration.

The next national policy fight for immigration reform will no doubt be grueling; if Obama and select members of Congress stand up to change our treatment of immigrants for the better, the opponents will be LOUD and leaders will need to know who's behind them.