LatinaLista — There was a time when those of us, who are naive when it comes to the ways of Washington, believed that debate over undocumented immigrants would be limited to the Immigration Reform bill.
How wrong we were.
In almost every major policy bill up for review and passage, congressmen have forcefully inserted undocumented immigrants into the debate.
From healthcare and the U.S. Census to border security, a.k.a. domestic terrorism, the specific subject of undocumented immigrants rises to the surface as never before.
Whoever cared what your citizenship status was when you filled out the US Census? The assumption was people living in this country chose to be here and had to be counted.
Whoever cared about the citizenship status of someone suffering from so much physical pain that only a doctor could relieve it? Any decent and rationale person feels some level of empathy to want to help that person that the last thing on anyone's mind is if the sufferer is in the country legally or not.
Whoever believed that a wall built along the southern border, or even the northern border for that matter, would make one bit of difference in stemming people's desire to come to this country to work?
Since it's been documented that most immigrants who are here illegally originally came over with a valid visa and overstayed their allotted time, the wall was always a curious imaginary fix to a real problem.
Each of these cases underscores how the issue of undocumented immigrants has been made central players in debates that most Americans don't even care or think twice about -- and finally Washington congressmen are getting the message.
Today, the Senate passed H.R. 2892, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2010. The bill made it out of Congress without some congressmen getting their way of including a provision mandating that additions be made to the border wall.
A border wall provision offered by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), included in the Senate bill, was stripped during conference with the House of Representatives.
According to Sierra Club Washington Representative Michael Degnan:
"Today's action marks the first time that a border wall proposal has been defeated in Congress. We congratulate the Congress for rejecting an irresponsible proposal to build more than 300 more miles of unnecessary border walls.
"Our government has already poured billions of dollars into building walls and barriers across 600 miles of the U.S./Mexico border. Although the effectiveness of these walls has never been measured, the negative impacts to communities and wildlife is clear. Border walls have separated families, caused damaging floods and erosion, and fractured habitat and migration corridors vital to wildlife that has been pushed to the brink of extinction.
"We hope that this historic action signals a readiness to permanently move our country's border policy beyond construction of costly and destructive border walls."
The next issue where people hope Congress sees the reality of the situation rather than trying to scapegoat undocumented immigrants is with the U.S. Census.
Louisiana Sen. David Vitter is proposing an amendment that would force the Census to include a question on immigration status. The Census then would exclude undocumented immigrants and legal permanent residents from the count.
Known as the Vitter Amendment, the idea that it's a bad thing to know just how many people live within a country's borders is such an asinine way of thinking that it leads to serious thought of an intelligence test being required of all elected officials before they assume office in Washington.
The argument is that undocumented and permanent residents inflate the numbers in certain states which allows them to have more representation in government. Yet, those numbers also let the federal government know that there is a reason why roads are traveled more often, why there are so many kids in public schools, why there are more businesses opening up, why...the list goes on. Not knowing is not going to make those people go away. If anything, it makes it worse for the country.
To not know how many people live in a given state is like a commander not knowing how many soldiers are in his platoon. Not knowing the exact number of people means less security and less information on how to plan for disaster relief or how much money to award to states to take care of their residents.
The Vitter Amendment is a glaring example of how politicians want to disrupt Washington as best they can. They know that all it takes is shouting "illegal immigrants" in a crowded Congressional hall.
It's time our government recaptured the sensibility that this country used to stand for and start looking at issues from the bigger picture of what is best for this country -- and not from the viewpoint of a select group who hold on to the idea that this is still the 20th Century.