Thursday, November 29, 2012

Immigration fairness

US Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez
The vast majority of Americans know the USA’s immigration system needs massive reform. As it is now, it serves no one well—not the country, its citizens, its taxpayers, its businesses or the immigrants themselves. Finally, we have a real possibility of change.

The recent US elections changed a lot of things, including this possibility for reform. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney lost the Hispanic vote in a landslide, mostly because of that party’s constant pandering to the most nativist, xenophobic and—let’s be honest here—racist base of their party. After their crushing defeat, Republicans in Congress (and even some in their media) started claiming to have seen the light on immigration reform.

Was it just a cynical political ploy, designed to try and convince Hispanic voters that Republicans aren’t really that bad? The post-election actions of Republicans at the state level suggest their party is as anti-immigrant as ever. However, let’s take the Congressional Republicans at their word.

US Representative Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Illinois-4) is the Chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus which today released its principles for immigration reform. In his remarks, he said:
When my colleagues and I demanded fairness for immigrants we used to be kind of like the unwanted party crasher—the one who makes all of the other guests uncomfortable. We stood alone, in the corner.

All of a sudden we’re the belle of the ball.

Well, it’s time to dance.
The goal of their “ONE NATION: Principles on Immigration Reform and Our Commitment to the American Dream” (downloadable from the link above) is aptly described in the document itself: “Our immigration laws ought to reflect both our interests and our values as Americans and we believe these principles are consistent with our nation’s commitment to fairness and equality.” I agree.

Principle 2 of the document especially caught my eye. They back comprehensive immigration reform that:
Protects the unity and sanctity of the family, including the families of bi-national, same-sex couples, by reducing the family backlogs and keeping spouses, parents, and children together [emphasis added]
There’s little that’s new in these principles, and the Democratic Party has long championed them (and many Republicans used to). The inclusion of LGBT families is also not new, and it’s certainly not a surprise. It’s unlikely to be dropped to get Republican support because, quite frankly, that same election’s results that put this issue back on the table also demonstrated the importance of the LGBT vote. Besides, Rep. Gutierrez has long been a strong advocate of fairness for LGBT people, as have others in the Hispanic Caucus.

Nevertheless, this will be an uphill fight: There’s still Republican intransigence on this issue, after all. But if those Congressional Republicans were serious, and not just playing politics, Congress actually might make some progress—finally.

Rep. Gutierrez described the principles as being about “common sense, common decency”. I think they are. I hope the Republicans have discovered a bit of both.


amerinz's sis said...

Yes, we do need immigration reform. However, I strongly disagree with Rep. Gutierrez that this should be top priority. It is a huge problem, but the economy is bigger than that. Our country's economic disaster reaches farther and is much more complex than matters concerning one ethnic group.

I remember when immigration laws were enforced. People applied while in their homeland. Before being granted permission to come here, applicants were given complete head to toe, inside and out physical examinations.

Investigations were made,checking to see if there were any crimes committed by the individual. There were quotas enforced for the number of people allowed to come to the States each year. And, after they arrived, both potential employers and landlords ran their own investigations to be sure the person had the proper legal papers to live and work here.

Ahhhh...the good ol' days. The days when laws were respected and followed by all. etc., etc.

Arthur Schenck said...

He didn't say it should a top priority, just that there is now an opportunity for reform. However, Congress ought to be able to do more than one thing at a time - they're allegedly adults, after all.

The point of the reforms is to bring everyone back under the law: They will need to have a clean record, for one thing, obey all laws, etc. It's the only way to sort out this mess.

Some want all illegal immigrants deported. If that was even possible, and it isn't, it would cause the US economy (and with it, the world's) to collapse. This is why legalising the status of illegal immigrants is so important to the US economy.

Beyond all that, we're talking about human beings. Legalising their status will have enormous positive flow-on effects for them, their children and society generally.

I believe that a society should be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable. Sorting out the immigration mess is the right thing to do, and to do now, for all the reasons I said, but especially the last one.