I’ve been sitting on this post for a while now. In part for personal reasons—I recently moved to New York to start a gig at a documentary production company—though also because I wanted to wait until we got to that point where the political talk turned into some semblance of action. And, well, that point is now.
Immigration reform in 2013 is real. There are no guarantees of a CIR bill passaging. And, even if Congress does pass a bill, there are no guarantees that it will adequately address the needs of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. But here we are today, talking about immigration as an issue square and center in the national debate. No longer is immigration relegated to a obligatory campaign promise or threat. Rather it’s an issue that politicians of both parties want to get behind in one way, shape or form.
But here’s the rub. Much of the chatter coming out of Washington lacks a certain sensibility and understanding of the greater issues concerning migration. One such problem is tying citizenship benefits to enforcement. Mother Jones went so far as to call it a deal breaker. The main point being that, stricter enforcement does not necessarily slow the flow of migrant workers into the United States. Instead the root of the problem needs to be addressed by answering the question: How do we create a legal path for migrant workers to enter the United States, or help create opportunities in their country of origin? The answer is largely academic, and I’ll soon share some nonpartisan studies.
Another issue is that the Congressional “Gang of Eight” is putting together a bill that would ask millions of undocumented immigrants to wait until stricter enforcement efforts were “certified” by governors in border states—among them, Jan Brewer. Close to two decades have passed since we passed significant immigration reform. And in that time the Obama administration has deported record numbers of immigrants. To make people wait any longer is a stain on our national consciousness.
I have more to say about this, and I will certainly do so in upcoming posts. For now, let me send you to Jose Torres Don, Cinthia Marroquin and Marco Antonio Cervantes. The NC Dream Team trio discussed their demands for immigration reform in 2013 in this video I recently produced for The Nation.