Immigration Reform, or Nothing!

Some weeks ago I suggested that if immigration reform is to be passed in the House of Representatives, it might be beneficial to drop a “path to citizenship” from the effort. That way, a bill with guest worker permits, legalization of millions here illegally, fair treatment for people brought here as children and some federal verification of worker eligibility could pass and become law.
Some people objected to that proposal because they want it all; never mind that legalizing those here illegally and work permits for labor alone will probably cut future illegal alien entry by millions and even eliminate up to 80 or 90 percent of illegal crossings immediately.
Wanting, demanding it all will kill immigration reform. Is the death of immigration reform desirable? In fact, is there any support for my proposal at all especially among the very people it can legalize?
I know there is and I know that the compromise proposal can positively affect chances for immigration reform.
Support is there for my proposal and it comes specifically from people who are here illegally and would be directly affected. A “path to citizenship” is not that important for many. The New York Times published a piece that quotes many of these people and they support my proposal.
Nicaraguan Glendy Martínez is here illegally and has one American citizen child here (three at home she supports). “So many people back there depend on those of us who are here…It would be such a help if we could work in peace and go back sometimes to see our children.” Glendy doesn’t care about citizenship, she only wants legalization.
“For many undocumented people, citizenship is not a priority,” said Oscar A. Chacon, executive director of the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities, “What they really care about is a solution that allows them to overcome their greatest vulnerabilities.” Vulnerabilities means arrest and deportation.
Legalization (New York Times) “For foreigners…those who cannot get a driver’s license in most states and live with gnawing worry about being fired or deported — that (legalization) would be enough…if they could work and drive legally, and visit relatives outside the country.” Fine.
Standing in the way of compromise are some Republican congressmen (about 40-60 of them) and myriad pro-immigration advocates who have yet to discover the blessings of American political compromise.
The Times: “We either have a path to citizenship or a path to hell,” said María Rodriguez, executive director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition. She continues: “A person who lives in this country but will never have an opportunity for citizenship creates a second class. It seems completely un-American.”
Counter argument: Only 40% of the 1986 Amnestied people, only 40% became citizens out of 3.5 million people.
“Citizenship is fundamental,” insists a Bolivian who has been in the United States illegally for a decade. “Otherwise we will be 11 million people left in limbo.”
Marcela Espinal agrees. ‘We have been working hard for our families and paying taxes all these years and we never lived off the government,” said Ms. Espinal, 35, a Honduran employed for more than a decade in construction. “Why shouldn’t we be able to vote someday?”
On the other hand “I think if we stick with the message of citizenship or nothing,” an Argentinian says, “we could end up with nothing.”
Virginia Republican Representative Robert Goodlatte is Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee; Goodlatte is vital to passage of any immigration reform, as is fellow Republicans House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
Goodlatte wants to “find the appropriate legal status for unlawful immigrants,” but that he would not grant them any special path to becoming Americans, the Times wrote.
67 percent of Hispanics/Latinos told a recent national survey (Public Religion Research Institute) that immigrants here illegally should be allowed to become citizens (with conditions), while 17 percent said they should only become legal residents.
Thus, can Boehner, Cantor and Goodlatte combine their efforts and power to pass reform that includes legalization, work permits, enforcement and e-verify for all new employees. This, over the objections of some Hispanics/Latinos and stuck-in-concrete all or nothing immigration advocates who prefer nothing to something.
If they don’t, my political instincts tell me immigration reform will die.
President Obama, whose enforcers have set records in deporting almost two million of mostly Hispanic people caught with broken tail lights or jaywalking, will then have license to begin rounding up 11 million mostly Hispanic people and sending them home leaving behind American citizen children born here to be raised in foster homes or on the streets.
All or nothing has no place in the American political lexicon; compromise does. With compromise we might have immigration reform soon. Without it, we might have NOTHING. ###

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