Sunday, March 21, 2010

Yet another struggle ahead

What if you worked for months to be build a march to support your agenda -- and something so big came along it knocked your efforts out of the news? I'm afraid that today's health care reform brouhaha will do that to the Washington rally for immigration reform. (The worst previous case of this sort of thing I can remember was when friends brought women who had been hurt by welfare cutbacks from all over the country to Congress to testify -- on Sept. 11, 2001. Oops.)

But the necessity for immigration reform isn't going to go away. As a country, we've imported a low wage working class without any rights. We like the cheap labor they provide; we don't like that they undercut those of us already here. Most of us, citizens and non-citizens, are living with the dislocations and human misery that system creates. We're never going to deport 12 million people, the vast majority of whom are leading productive lives and have citizen relatives. Something is going to have to give.

Though immigration marchers will have a hard time getting attention today, it is worth remembering what they are asking for. Here's a list from the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights:
  • suspend detentions and deportations until humanitarian policy alternatives are in place, and to reinstate due process;
  • support legalization without the onerous hurdles of past proposals that will limit applications; [no huge fines or multi-year waiting periods!]
  • uphold family reunification as a core principle of immigration policy, and expand and expedite legal immigration;
  • end guestworker programs -- provide access to green cards for people brought here to work;
  • end the criminalization of immigrants, ... stop the militarization of the border and local police collaboration programs;
  • strengthen labor law enforcement for all workers, regardless of citizenship or immigration status;
  • ensure immigrant access to services.
That's a big list and not all likely to happen at once or fast. The new health care bill even undercuts the last item, barring undocumented people from buying into the new standardized health insurance with their own money! But this list does contain the elements of a sensible, humane immigration policy. Yet another necessary struggle to overcome fear, misinformation, and inertia lies ahead.


Kay Dennison said...

I worked for our local Hispanic Center and my boss is/was a nationally known immigration expert/lawyer. Everything you've listed here is so very true -- I saw it every day with our clients.

The stories I could tell but can't!!!!

Darlene said...

Lindsey Graham stated that if the Health Care bill passed it would stop the legislation he is working on with a Democrat. I hope he is wrong.

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