June 23, 2016 – Immigration reform is a critical issue for our nation. Yet, due to the Republican boycott of its responsibility to confirm Supreme Court Justices, the Supreme Court was unable to rule on President Obama’s use of an executive order that impacted 4 million undocumented immigrants. The 4-4 tie among the remaining Justices underscores the partisan divide within the Court and means that the injunction of the 5th Circuit Court shall remain in place pending further adjudication.
While Republicans are claiming a victory, nothing could be further from the truth. There was no decision in U.S. vs. Texas. Instead, because of the Republican obstruction in the Senate, the Supreme Court has been reduced to a stalemate that resembles Congress, which has failed to operate effectively for far too long.
This should anger all of us, and it’s time we took action to correct it. That’s why Florida’s Primary on August 30th and the General Election on November 8th are so important. Do we want to continue to reshuffle the deck with traditional politicians who have created the current political environment, or will we elect new leadership who will fight for real change?
It is embarrassing that U.S. vs. Texas ever arose. Had Congress acted to pass comprehensive immigration reform, the President would have never been forced to try to address the issue through executive action. Instead, our elected representatives would have passed legislation that was in the best interest of the People as their respective oaths of office suggest. However, that was not the case.
Traditional politicians seem to be more interested in re-election than they are in resolving our nation’s most challenging issues. Immigration is a glaring example.
Let me be clear: Our immigration system is broken, and it has been for decades. Yet, the House of Representatives and Senate have made almost zero progress on the issue even though some members of those chambers have been in office for multiple terms. In the real world, as opposed to the political one, you would be out of business if you ignored such a critical issue.
Perhaps I am more passionate about this issue because I am a first generation American, and I know what my citizenship means to me. I also am deeply involved in the Latino community and know how important the issue is to its members.
Families are being split apart. Children are frightened of being deported. “Dreamers,” who played no role in their parents’ decision to enter the United States, are being treated as if they intentionally crossed the border. Undocumented immigrants, who have served our country in Afghanistan and Iraq, have subsequently been deported. Does any of this make sense?
Why can’t we reach a decision that offers a pathway to citizenship to the millions of people who have come to our shores in search of a better life and who have contributed to our nation in a positive way? That is not to suggest favoring them over those who have tried to navigate the difficult immigration process that is currently in place. It is simply to suggest that we develop a logical method of integrating those who have demonstrated themselves to be vital members of our society.
The President’s executive action was driven by the Congressional impasse. It only addressed how current laws should be prioritized given the scope of the issue in light of budgetary limitations. In other words, it was a rational approach to enforcing the dysfunctional laws that are currently on the books.
The Republican alternative is to characterize undocumented immigrants as murderers, rapists and thieves in an effort to leverage fear for their political gain. Just for good measure, they’ve now thrown in “terrorist” as a common trait. We’re better than that.
The facts clearly show that undocumented immigrants are less likely to perpetrate crimes than regular citizens. They are forced to live in the shadows and are extremely cautious of drawing attention to themselves. The Republican characterization of some sort of criminal culture within that community only exists because they draw attention to the exceptions.
It’s time to create an immigration system that works; one that does not take years and thousands of dollars to complete. Today’s technology should be able to vet immigrants in a relatively thorough manner in a reasonable period of time.
We also should not punish children for the decisions of others nor separate family members who have only contributed positively to our society. In essence, we need to begin to view immigrants as assets rather than liabilities, and we need to treat them with the respect and dignity they deserve.
Let’s find a way to welcome immigrants who can contribute to our economy and expand the tax base to help reduce our national debt. Even a Republican should be able to embrace that opportunity.
Those are my thoughts. What are yours?
(Please feel free to express you opinion below. My only request is that you do so rationally rather than emotionally and in a civil manner that respects the rights of others to disagree.)