Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Presidential Election Puts Immigration Reform Back in Play


During the debates and throughout the election campaign for the presidency of the United States the big issues were the economy, reducing the deficit and foreign policy.  However, the results of the election illustrated that although all of those issues were major, the ignored issue of immigration proved to be important as well.
Throughout the republican primaries and in the presidential debate the republican candidates took a strong anti-immigrant stance.  For instance, in the primaries Mitt Romney advocated enacting tough policies against undocumented immigrants that would encourage “self-deportation” and said that he would not support the DREAM Act.  In the presidential debate when asked “what do you plan on doing with immigrants without their green cards that are currently living here as productive members of society?”  Mr. Romney advocated for reforming our broken immigration system but also plainly stated “…I will not grant amnesty to those who’ve come here illegally.”  This tough stance on immigration reform and undocumented immigrants may have garnered support from his conservative base; however, it did not bode well with women and minorities, especially Latinos.  According to a Reuters poll, President Obama won 80% of the vote from African Americans, Latinos and other nonwhites, while Mitt Romney won less than 17 % of that demographic.  Moreover, President Obama also gained approximately 55% of the female voters.
The election demographics illustrate that republicans can no longer ignore the issues that are important to the voters in the female and minority demographics, since the white male vote is no longer sufficient to carry a national election. This fact gives me hope that immigration reform may be attainable in the next four years.  Previously the main impediment to passing immigration reform was politics, immigration became a dirty word.  Well immigration no longer a dirty word in politics, it’s the issue that must be dealt with to court the highest growing voter demographic, Latinos.  Since republicans should now see clearly that they need to reach out to Latino voters and helping the president pass immigration reform would be a great start.  As such, since it is now politically positive to now deal with immigration reform Congress may be able to start moving forward on the issue in a substantive way.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Arizona’s S.B. 1070 immigration law symptomatic of larger issue

On July 28, 2010, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton ruled against Arizona’s S.B. 1070 immigration law, finding that several portions of the ill-conceived law were preempted by federal rule.  Immigrant advocates saw the decision for what it was- a victory for our constitution.  However, the core problem still remains that we have an immigration system that is broken and in need of serious reform.

The Arizona law is only a symptom of a much larger problem- that is our current immigration system is not doing what needs to be done to secure our borders and prevent the flow of unlawful immigration to the U.S.  Nor does our current system address the U.S. economy’s dependence on cheap unskilled labor or the estimated 11 million undocumented foreign nationals in the U.S.  Although, Americans may disagree on exactly what form comprehensive immigration reform should take, we cannot disagree that something must be done. Further, we can all agree that the United States does not have the resources to find and deport 11 million undocumented persons.  President Obama addressed this logistical nightmare saying:
“Now, if the majority of Americans are skeptical of a blanket amnesty, they are also skeptical that it is possible to round up and deport 11 million people.  They know it's not possible. Such an effort would be logistically impossible and wildly expensive. Moreover, it would tear at the very fabric of this nation -- because immigrants who are here illegally are now intricately woven into that fabric.”
There is no shortage of proposals for comprehensive immigration reform bills; however, there has been no movement towards the passage of comprehensive immigration reform since the last failed attempt in 2007.  As recently, as July 1st, 2010, President Obama gave a speech at the American University School of International Service where he stressed the need for comprehensive immigration reform.  However, he also addressed what I believe is the single issue preventing the passage of comprehensive immigration reform, politics.  President Obama commented on the politics of immigration saying:
“In sum, the system is broken. And everybody knows it. Unfortunately, reform has been held hostage to political posturing and special-interest wrangling -- and to the pervasive sentiment in Washington that tackling such a thorny and emotional issue is inherently bad politics.”
Arizona’s law was created to address a legitimate problem.  Unfortunately, the law didn’t actually address the issues it was intended to solve and it took the State into enforcement of laws that fall directly in the federal purview.  Nonetheless, the enactment of the Arizona law puts Congress on notice that there is a growing frustration in the States regarding their inaction on comprehensive immigration reform.  As such, unless Congress acts quickly we will continue to see the enactment of ill-conceived laws and be forced to waste DOJ resources fighting them in court.  We need to address the real issue by passing comprehensive immigration reform.

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