Unless you have had your head buried in the sand for the last thirty days, you are aware that America is having a national “Debate” on healthcare reform. That is if you call a “debate” yelling at each other, accusing the other side of the “debate” of being a Nazi, a socialist, a birther, or a communist. Frankly, the only part of this debate that is not surprising to me, is how calm it is compared to the national debate we have experienced in the recent past on immigration enforcement and reform.
We, as advocates for immigrants, whether or not we agree with whatever reform package might be introduced in September by Senator Schumer, or what might ultimately be voted on by Congress, have to understand is that the vehemence, vituperation, passion, and outright hatred we are experiencing right now over the healthcare reform agendas will PALE in comparison to what we will hear during the immigration debate.
Let’s not kid ourselves. The groups that oppose immigrants are as strong as ever. Heck, the Know Nothings over at the Center for Immigration Studies even have a “press conference” next week touting their newest anti-immigrant theory about how the entire healthcare crisis in America is caused and increased by immigrants, both legal and illegal. And this from what some in the media believe is a mainstream non-partisan research group! Groups such as Numbers USA, FAIR, and the myriad of other Tanton-affiliated anti-immigration groups will ensure that the phones on Capitol Hill shut down and that they scream louder than anyone else. Their solution for our immigration crisis (actually, their solution for ANY crisis), is simply to deport all undocumented and legal immigrants, closing the door on the last person to leave.
Rather than close your ears to the current Healthcare debate, listen carefully, see where loudest shouts come from, and then be ready for the same crowd to shout down immigration reform, but do so louder, bolder and with more vehemence. Be ready for the name calling, the anti-American accusations, and the nastiness to be worse than we have ever experienced. Be prepared now to engage in constructive advocacy, but also learn from those supporting healthcare reform. If any reform of either healthcare OR immigration happens in the next six to ten months it will happen ONLY if the supporters are louder (but nicer) and more insistent than the opposers (to coin a phrase).
You now have a history lesson happening before your eyes. Recognize it, learn from it, and whatever you do, don’ t repeat it.