On June 15, 2012, President Obama took a bold step by supporting DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano’s memo offering deferred action to certain young undocumented immigrants who have been victims of congressional politicking.
The President’s action will enable over 800,000 individuals to come out of the shadows and fully participate in our society. There may be teachers, doctors, lawyers, firefighters, social workers, soldiers, and athletes among their ranks. They will pay taxes, get car loans, buy homes, provide other essential services and strengthen our diverse economy when we need it the most.
Building on the President’s momentum, on June 25, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed that we may not have a patchwork of immigration rules and regulations in these United States of America. The Justices rejected the core of the divisive Arizona SB 1070 and held it as unconstitutional. Only one section of the law was upheld and the Justices left the door open for future litigation on whether it leads to racial profiling.
As a result of these recent developments, immigration has arrived front and center in this Presidential election year as a key issue for the electorate to consider before they cast their ballots. According to a recent Gallup poll, immigration policies ranked between 3rd or 6th in importance to U.S. voters, depending on how they were asked the question.
Not too long ago, immigration was a bi-partisan issue. Most Americans including business, religious, and civic groups had long held the view that immigration was a net gain for the country. Indeed, America’s citizenry is composed of virtually every nationality, race, and religion. Over the centuries, our diversity has been the source of great strength economically and otherwise.
Unfortunately, in recent years we have witnessed prominent members of Congress change their positions on immigration matters due to pressure by some fringe groups. This despite the Administration’s record on increased border security and removal of non-citizen criminals from the United States.
So what gives? Why did the last major expansion of our immigration policy occur over a quarter of a century ago? Why are we spending so much of our time and money to separate law-abiding bi-national families? Why are we exporting highly educated foreign scientists to India and China upon their graduation from U.S. universities? Why are we blocking capital flight from overseas due to our antiquated visa system? Why is the narrowest of the immigration bills – the DREAM Act – still stalled in Congress? Why do our Congressional leaders sometimes behave like kids in a school yard, but with a gavel?
I do not have a logical answer to any of these questions, but certainly a nation that roared in unison and demanded that Mr. Gorbachev tear down the Berlin Wall is at odds with its culture when it wants to build its very own version of the wall – and electrify it in the process. It’s our destiny as Americans to work together and come up with a just and comprehensive overhaul of our immigration system. It’s time for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.
Written by: Ally Bolour, AILA Media-Advocacy Committee