Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Immigration Reform -- the Next Important Issue

With the Health Care Reform debate now nearing its close (at least for a while), the next important issue is coming up -- that is Comprehensive Immigration Reform.  Having lived a good portion of my life in Southern California, I know a bit about immigration issues.  Border states like California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas have wrestled with the impact of immigration on health and education services.  An attempt at reform was made in the 1980s, when President Reagan gave amnesty to a significant number of undocumented residents.  But little has been done since, beyond trying (unsuccessfully) to "protect" the borders.  In the mean time, more and more undocumented folks have come to the United States, seeking what immigrants have always sought, a stake in the promise of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."   They have taken seriously the invitation inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty.  

Part of the problem is that our immigration laws are both unjust (separating families, punishing children who came here with parents, etc.) and unworkable.  As Cardinal Roger Mahoney writes in an On Faith column,

Our legal immigration system, basically ignored by Congress for nearly 50 years, is outmoded and inadequate to our future labor needs, especially when the economy recovers. There are simply not enough visas for unskilled workers to come legally. The family-based immigration system, which has helped immigrant families remain together and thrive for decades, is unworkable and now keeps families apart.

The combined effect of these policies has negatively impacted immigrant communities, including their legal resident and U.S. citizen members.
Although nativism seems to be on the rise, immigration reform has the potential to be an issue that can bring together bi-partisan support.  President George W. Bush pushed immigration reform when he ran for President in 2000.  John McCain has endorsed it (at least in the past).  And now Senator Lindsey Graham has joined with Senator Chuck Shumer, in proposing immigration reform, one that focuses not just on enforcement, but also reforming the way in which immigrants are allowed to come into the country.   Hopefully, the politics that drove the health care debate will not drive this one.   Border states need this, employers need this, we need this.  We are a nation of immigrants, let us celebrate our broad heritage, and also do what is right for all.   

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Maybe we can offer a plot of land in Detroit. All they have to do is demolish a house or two. David Mc

Gary said...

The only sensible answer to illegal immigration is to put an end to it and deport those who are here illegally. Unpleasant? Yes. Necessary? Of course. Unjust? Not at all. Foreign born people have no right to come here uninvited. The United States is under no moral obligation to open our borders to anyone who wishes to come here.

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...

Gary, You know, I expect that the Native American people wish they had thought of that, before our ancestors arrived!

Gary said...

Cornwall,

Is that supposed to be some kind of argument for opening our borders?

Could I ask you a question? Why does being in the U.S. illegally give someone the right to stay here and be granted legal status?

Another question: Why does someone who is here illegally have more of a right to be here than someone who is currently in another country?

Anonymous said...

That's a good one Bob. Gary's right though- except we should pleasantly request they return home and that they should stand in line for legal opportunities to visit, work, etc. David Mc

Anonymous said...

Anyway, we'll have secure national IDs soon. Except in Virginia of course. David Mc

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...

Gary, I simply answered the statement in a historical context. We are a nation of immigrants, and for most of us, our ancestors came here without any legal standing.

The other side of the question relates to do with those already here. Rounding up 10 or 11 million people (not all of whom are Latino) and ejecting them would cost billions and would likely be inhumane. There are other issues here, such as families -- children who have grown up in the States, knowing no other life. What about them?

The reason this is a bi-partisan effort is that Republicans support efforts to legalize those folks who work for American businesses. For them it's pro-business. On the Democratic side it's a matter of fairness and justice. Ironic isn't it that the two sides coalesce here.

Gary said...

Cornwall,

Both sides are wrong. The Democratic view of fairness and justice is perverted, just like yours is. Saying that it is justice to give legal status to people who have knowingly broken our immigration laws is just stupidity pretending to be justice. Justice would be deporting them.

Why don't you advocate abolishing immigration laws? It is obvious that you think it is "unjust" to tell anyone they have no right to come to America. You are for open borders. I'm pretty sure hussein obama and the other damnocrats would agree with you.

Anonymous said...

Many of the illegal immigrants are abused. This should be dealt with. Slavery was abolished, right? If we need/ want them to stay, okay, but let's not perpetuate the lawlessness on all sides. Reagan's amnesty should have been followed with further action, not blindness. David Mc