Okay, the opening salvo is fired. Senator Schumer has announced the starting point of this year’s immigration reform debate, kind of. In an article in the Washington Post, Senator Schumer has outlined what he sees as the baseline of immigration reform. Spencer Hsu, of Washington Post reports that Schumer sees immigration reform:
requiring that an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants register with the government and “submit to a rigorous process to convert to legal status” or face immediate deportation. [The][l]egislation must also create mechanisms to attract high-skilled immigrants, control the flow of low-skilled immigrants and protect native-born workers.
Senator Schumer is calling for a National ID card (something to displease everyone):
Schumer’s proposal for a national “biometric” identification system to verify work documents — based on fingerprints, iris scans or digital photographs –stems from a key weakness of past immigration overhaul efforts . . . .
and omits a temporary worker visa program. Both of these elements will be key discussion points for the overall package of immigration reform that kicks officially tomorrow with a meeting at the White House between President Obama and key Senators and Congressman.
What does Senator Schumer’s position statement, and the meeting tomorrow at the White House mean? First, and most importantly, it means the debate has begun. There is no going back now without losing face, prestige, and likely more importantly, the support of millions of Latinos.
Second, it means we have a lot of work to do. We do not agree with all these positions, there is more to be done. We have to help shape this package and beat back some of the awful and hateful baggage that anti-immigrationists will try to add to it. We have to call, write, visit, cajole, argue, blog, twitter, march, protest and demand proper immigration reforms. We cannot allow what happened in the summer of 2007 (a closed door, back room deal with no negotiation from people who actually knew and understood the law). Now is the time to get the emails out and the fax machines moving. We will be sending out alerts to notify folks about what they can do to effectuate change.
Finally, Senator Schumer’s comments today mark the official transition from Senator Kennedy to Senator Schumer as the water carrier on immigration reform. While we may not agree with Senator Schumer on all aspects of his ideas for immigration reform, it is important to thank him for having the political courage to move this debate forward. Senator Schumer, Thank You! Hopefully, other Senators will get on this train and help drive it forward to a successful CIR Bill we can all support.