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Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Palabra Final > Immigration > Forcing the debate over immigration reform starts now

Forcing the debate over immigration reform starts now

LatinaLista — Today was a big day in Washington.

There was the bipartisan passage of the Senate Finance Committee’s health reform bill, even though there was only one Republican that signed on — and there was the immigration rally attended by thousands of immigrants, advocates and sympathizers.

gutierrez.jpg
Illinois Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez outlines his core principles that must be included in any immigration reform bill.



 

If you didn’t hear about the rally, it’s not surprising. It didn’t take place until late afternoon – after the passage of the health reform bill but news outlets are slowly getting around to writing about it.

And they should be because this wasn’t the usual caravan-to-Washingon-and-demand-immigration reform rally. This rally was different in that it served as the platform where Illinois Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, chairman of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, attempted to jumpstart the immigration debate by unveiling the “core principles” he wants seen included in any immigration reform bill.

From Rep. Gutierrez’s list, it’s easy to see that compared to the healthcare debate, the immigration reform debate has the potential to split this country wide open.

While the accepted viewpoint is that there will be much give-and-take once immigration reform reaches the floor of Congress, there are certain points, as outlined by Rep. Gutierrez, that are just not negotiable. Among them are:

Pathway to legalization for undocumented workers: “Immigration reform will not work unless it takes a practical approach to dealing with the 12 million undocumented immigrants living, working, and raising families in the United States. We need a bill that says if you come here to hurt our communities, we will not support you. But if you are here to work hard–if you are here to make a better life for your family–you will have the opportunity to earn your citizenship.”

Smart and humane interior enforcement: “Inside the country, my plan will promote fair immigration proceedings, humane treatment of immigration detainees and policies that respect the tenets of community policing.”

Family unity as a cornerstone of our immigration system: “Family is the bedrock of our society, and immigration reform must support strong, united families and treat all immigrant families fairly and equally. Right now, our broken immigration system keeps too many American families apart for years and even decades, when they have done everything legally. We need a system predicated on family values by developing laws that better value families — a system that keeps families strong and, most importantly, keeps husbands and wives, parents and children together.”

DREAM Act: “We all want a country that is better educated, better motivated and better prepared for the future. My plan will strengthen the DREAM Act, making it quicker and easier for students who grew up in America and know no other home to fully participate in our society. Immigrants brought here as children should not be punished with fines or other means; rather, they should be fully integrated into our society as the Americans they truly are–and as quickly as possible.”

Of all the points Rep. Gutierrez advocates, these are the ones that will draw the most criticisms from people who already vehemently disagree with any measure that supports citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

For advocates of undocumented immigrants, all of Rep. Gutierrez’s recommendations won’t please them either — but that is the way it should be.

Neither side should be in total agreement with these recommendations or any future ones that will be submitted in the name of immigration reform.

It’s when there is disagreement that debate can begin. However, there were hard lessons learned during the healthcare debate that need to be taken to heart, or at the least, be highlighted:

Opponents will try to derail the immigration debate with exaggerated and dishonest analysis, accompanied by extremely vocal disrespect of anyone who opposes them.

Yet, the most worrisome is that opposition to any kind of immigration reform debate will manifest into physical attacks on not just those perceived to be undocumented immigrants, but anyone who fits the so-called stereotype of what an undocumented immigrant looks like.

It’s already been happening:

Hate crimes targeting Hispanic Americans rose 40 percent from 2003 to 2007, the most recent year for which FBI statistics are available, from 426 to 595 incidents, marking the fourth consecutive year of increases.

The Latino community is bracing for these kinds of unwarranted attacks and the conservative activists who fuel the condoning of these acts should be held as accountable as the creatures perpetuating them.

Immigration reform started today. Time will tell how ugly the battle gets.

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Comment(15)

  • Avatar
    Juan
    October 13, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    “From Rep. Gutierrez’s list, it’s easy to see that compared to the healthcare debate, the immigration reform debate has the potential to split this country wide open.”
    Is that what we American Latino really want to do, split this country wide open, in effect, start a civil war over undocumented immigrants? I don’t think we’d win and if we did, it would be a Pyrrhic victory, with all the enemies we’d make.

  • Avatar
    maryelizabeth
    October 14, 2009 at 12:19 am

    These Conservative activists do need to be held accountable for fueling the hate out there. They are acting like creatures rather than responsible elected officials. They care more about energizing their voters base and they do it through manupulating their “deep seated racial hate”. We can not afford to have this kind of dysfunction anymore. Our communitys do not need to leave in fear of being terrorized anymore!!!

  • Avatar
    Margi
    October 14, 2009 at 9:15 am

    This is the real reason why CIR will never take place. The argument that this amnesty will be the last is false. Citizens will never permit this to happen. http://www.reuters.com/article/pressRelease/idUS39829+14-Oct-2009+PRN20091014 :
    Poll: Mexicans Say Amnesty Would Increase Illegal Immigration
    Wed Oct 14, 2009 12:30am
    Mexicans also Feel Mexican-Americans Should Be Loyal to Mexico
    WASHINGTON, Oct. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A new survey by Zogby
    International finds that people in Mexico think that granting legal status to
    illegal immigrants would encourage more illegal immigration to the United
    States. As the top immigrant-sending country for both legal and illegal
    immigrants, views on immigration in Mexico can provide insight into the likely impact of an amnesty, as well as other questions related to immigration.
    The results are on the Center for Immigration Studies’ website:
    http://cis.org/ZogbyPoll-EffectsOfAmnesty . Among the findings:
    — A clear majority of people in Mexico, 56 percent, thought giving legal status to illegal immigrants in the United States would make it more
    likely that people they know would go to the United States illegally. Just 17 percent thought it would make Mexicans less likely to go illegally. The rest were unsure or thought it would make no difference.
    — Of Mexicans with a member of their immediate household in the United States, 65 percent said a legalization program would make people they know more likely to go to America illegally.
    — Two-thirds of Mexicans know someone living in the United States;
    one-third said an immediate member of their household was living in the United States.
    — Interest in going to the United States remains strong even in the
    current recession, with 36 percent of Mexicans (39 million people) saying they would move to the United States if they could. This is consistent with a recent Pew Research Center poll which found that about one-third of Mexicans would go to the United States if they could. At present, 12 to 13 million Mexico-born people live in the United
    States.
    — An overwhelming majority (69 percent) thought that the primary loyalty of Mexican-Americans (Mexico- and U.S.-born) should be to Mexico. Just 20 percent said it should be to the United States. The rest were unsure.
    — Also, 69 percent of people in Mexico felt that the Mexican government
    should represent the interests of Mexican-Americans (Mexico- and
    U.S.-born) in the United States.
    — A plurality, 39 percent, of Mexicans thought that in the last year fewer people they know had gone to the United States as illegal immigrants
    compared to previous years. Only 27 percent thought more had gone. The rest thought it had stayed the same or were unsure.
    — A plurality, 40 percent, also thought that in the last year more of
    the illegal immigrants they know had returned to Mexico compared to previous years. Only 25 percent thought the number returning had fallen. The rest thought it had stayed the same or were unsure.
    — Both the bad economy and increased immigration enforcement were cited as reasons fewer people were going to America as illegal immigrants and more were coming back to Mexico.
    Discussion
    As the nation begins debates the issue of immigration, the perspective of people in Mexico is important because Mexico is the top sending country for both legal and illegal immigrants. In 2008 one of six new legal immigrants was from Mexico and, according to the Department of Homeland Security, 6 out of 10 illegal immigrants come from that country. Asking people in Mexico their views
    on immigration can provide insight into the likely impact of an amnesty for
    illegal immigrants and other questions related to immigration.
    This survey is the first to ask people in Mexico if they thought legalizing
    illegal immigrants in the United States would encourage more illegal
    immigration. The survey was conducted in August and September of 2009 and
    consisted of 1,004 in-person interviews of adults throughout Mexico. The
    findings show that a majority of people in Mexico think that an amnesty would make it more likely that people in Mexico would come to the United States illegally. This is especially true for people who have a member of their households living in the United States. It is important to note that
    respondents were asked specifically about whether an amnesty would make
    illegal immigration more likely, not just immigration generally. Other
    questions in the survey explore attitudes about migration to United States
    generally, recent trends in migration, and loyalty to the United States.

  • Avatar
    Marisa Treviño
    October 14, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    Juan, What would be the alternative then?

  • Avatar
    cookie
    October 14, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Quote –
    “These Conservative activists do need to be held accountable for fueling the hate out there. They are acting like creatures rather than responsible elected officials. They care more about energizing their voters base and they do it through manupulating their “deep seated racial hate”. We can not afford to have this kind of dysfunction anymore. Our communitys do not need to leave in fear of being terrorized anymore!!!”
    The liberal activists likewise. They are fueling hate against conservatives for a secure America. The Democrats/liberals are also pandering for votes from Hispanics. Speaking of deep seated racism, I think that fits the personality of anyone who wants an amnesty for those ethically like themselves and then goes on the attack of Americans who don’t agree with their agenda. I agree, law abiding Americans shouldn’t have to be terrorized by being called racists and other foul names when they are only being supportive of our laws with the best interests of this country in mind.

  • Avatar
    maryelizabeth
    October 14, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    Juan :
    “From Rep. Gutierrez’s list, it’s easy to see that compared to the healthcare debate, the immigration reform debate has the potential to split this country wide open.”
    Is that what we American Latino really want to do, split this country wide open, in effect, start a civil war over undocumented immigrants?
    I think what Juan fails to recognize is that the system has been broken for around 25 years and the “undocumented” consists of many different backgrounds. “Hispanics” are the majority but when you look at the stats you will see that 1 out of every 20 American worker is “undocumented” and this is huge. You have to realize that in a 25 years span children were borned and there are mixed familys with various backgrounds. What I often find confusing is that this movement seems to point to “Hispanics” and only “Hispanics” and this is false information. The moment is about everyone now. I myself am a strong advocate for the Immigration Reform Bill and I want “A path for Citizenship for all of the Undocumented” and I do not care were…whether or not they are educated, rich or poor. I myself am also a 3ird generation daughter Italian daughter of a World War II veteran dad…”so much for the idea that this is just a movement that is all about Hispanics”. It is not!! and when I see a “Hispanic” go against the movement because they think they have entitlement to the US because they believe they are on the top tier above other Hispanics it just makes me feel rather sick to my stomach. I really think it is sad when people think they are more entitled or better than the last guy that steps into this country looking for a better life. Also, these people…”these undocumented people” have planted their roots here. They are husbands, wives, friends and loved ones of US citizens that have ancestory that goes back for generations and generations. Now, let me see who has entitlement over that!!
    64% of Americans want the this Reform to pass and that includes a path to citizenship for the “undocumented”. There are only 15% that oppose it and it is more than likely this bill will pass this time in the senate. There is simply no more excuses to let this issue ride anymore. The population of the “undocumented” is way to big and the vast majority of US citizens do not want to compete against “cheap labor” anymore. We are all feed up with the “right winged” solution and see through the agenda. It is transparent that this is a wedge issue to suppress the “minority vote” and the anti’s are also fans of the “cheap labor” magnet.
    Will the pro-side win? If healthcare reform passes!!??….I see Immigration Reform passing a smooth as you spread butter on your toast in the morning. If the “right wing” loses the healthcare battle they will look ridiculous trying to stop Immigration Reform. I myself am looking forward to protesting against that small tent of circus animals beating their chests and stamping their feet against the movement. They are going to look ridiculiously silly!

  • Avatar
    maryelizabeth
    October 14, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Also, I must remind this 15% that is against progression with a “path to citizenship for the undocumented” they need to realize that the “right winged” totals 30% of the vote. I just was finished talking to a few neighbors that happen to be “right winged” and they want the Immigration Reform bill to pass. Once you talk to them about the entire detention system and how it was abused and used to go after nannys and landscapers and the focus shifted from its original intention of “going after real criminals” they hop to the pro-side. The Anti’s are losing a good percentage of their supporters on this issue. For the most part “right wing” Republicans are all about family values and they are pro-life. So good advice would be let it go while you still have some friends.

  • Avatar
    Juan
    October 14, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    Be good citizens and follow the law. In the end, it’s Anglos that you we have to get along with to gain support for the social agenda for improving the Latino-American socio-economic posture. The mass of undocumented are the responsibility of Mexico, that’s what Anglos recognize and that’s their main complaint. Go after Mexico, as reform there will resolve the immigration issue. So far, you’ve given them a pass, and that’s wrong. Keep going the way we are and there will be civil war.

  • Avatar
    Liquidmicro
    October 14, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    These Conservative activists do need to be held accountable for fueling the hate out there.
    So if Conservatives don’t go along with the “progressive ideals” they are labeled as “creatures” with “deep seated racial hate”?? What else is there to rally say? Except maybe you should look at all the division among all politicians, even those in your own “progressive ideology”. Conservatives merely hold people responsible for themselves based on the choices they themselves make. “Progressives” feel the need to cuddle all those they think are only worthy of empathy, that they can not take care of themselves, that they are like that of children. That “Progressives” know whats better for them and whats right for them.
    Sorry but when my kids grow up I let them on their own to have their own life and to make their own choices, I may give them advice, but then that’s all it is. If they need help, and ask for it, it will be given, but only enough to get them out of the jam they are in, and then they are on their own again. Its called personal responsibility, every body has it if they are allowed to think, act, and choose on their own, and accept the responsibility for their choices. That’s Conservative ideals.

  • Avatar
    Karen
    October 15, 2009 at 3:44 am

    Re: “Is that what we American Latino really want to do, split this country wide open, in effect, start a civil war over undocumented immigrants? I don’t think we’d win and if we did, it would be a Pyrrhic victory, with all the enemies we’d make.”
    NAFTA and other so-called free trade agreements are the reason so many people from Mexico and the rest of Latin America are immigrating here without documents. NAFTA is creating a big pool of cheap labor.
    Corporate greed and exploitation are splitting this country. It’s wrong to exploit millions of workers and deny them legal protections.
    You think human rights should be ignored because bigots might get angry. Newsflash: They hate you whether or not you respect yourself, so you might as well stand up for your rights. Get some courage.

  • Avatar
    cookie
    October 15, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    About polls, it is how the questions are asked and many of the questions can be skewered to produce the desired results. There are just as many poll results that reveal that Americans want our immigration laws enforced rather than rewarding those who break them.
    I agree with Liquid, we are all responsible for our own choices and actions. Most pro-advocates only want to blame the employers and not those workng and living in our country illegally at all. That is just plain wrong! I blame both along with our government’s failure to secure our borders and stop giving incentives to come her illegally.
    Why would the anti’s be advocates for cheap labor? They are the ones whose jobs have been lost to due to cheap illegal labor. Oh sure the greedy employers want the cheap labor because it effects their profit margin but it hurts the rest of us anti’s.
    NAFTA was signed my Mexico also. If they made a bad deal that affected their citizens livelyhood that is their problem but that doesn’t give anyone the right to jump our borders illegally.
    Bigotry and/or racism has nothing to do with the majority of Americans who oppose illegal immigration. Why do the pro’s always pull the race card? Lack of viable arguments?

  • Avatar
    Henry
    October 15, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    “You think human rights should be ignored because bigots might get angry.”
    Are you saying that because the Mexican government signed onto a program that violates its citizens rights, it’s the fault of Americans? I don’t see our citizens marching in the streets because they’re losing jobs to the Chinese, or blaming the Chinese government for their plight. I don’t see our citizens violating another country’s borders and then claiming that they have a right to be there. This is nonsense. What about the idea that Americans are angry about being invaded by foreigners? Don’t we have any rights?

  • Avatar
    maryelizabeth
    October 18, 2009 at 12:04 am

    (I don’t see our citizens marching in the streets because they’re losing jobs to the Chinese, or blaming the Chinese government for their plight.)
    People in the US are always complaining about outsourcing and that the Chinese took our jobs in production. They blame the Chinese all the time. Where have you been? Are you living in a bubble? And when talking about Immigrants. Why is the subject always focused on Mexico? The “undocumented” consist of more than just Hispanics. I have many friends that are “undocumented” and in need of Immigration reforma and they are Polish. It is true that the majority are Hispanic but there is a bigger picture out there and the “undocumented” population comes from all over the world.

  • Avatar
    cookie
    October 18, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    Of course Americans are going to complain when foeigners take our jobs whether it be through outsourcing or through illegal immigration. Is that a surpise to you? It is the fault of our government for allowing either of these things to happen.
    You answered your own question as to why Hispanics in our country illegally take most of the heat…they are the majority. What ethnic group consisted of the majority of the marchers and has all kinds of advocacy groups demanding amnesty and citizenship for them? What language do we have to press two for at the ATM’s and in what language do we see all kinds of advertisements in but no other foreign langauges? Hint, it isn’t Mandarin. What group consists of the highest number giving birth in our country without the parents having the papers to be here? I could go on but you get my drift. None of this means that we don’t mind if there are other ethnic groups in our country without permission it is just something your side uses to claim discrimination against Hispanics who are in our country illegally only. That simply isn’t true. It is about their massive numbers as to why they are of the most concern to us.

  • Avatar
    Don
    October 19, 2009 at 11:37 am

    ME, try a reading comprehension class. Most Americans who lose their jobs don’t blame China, but their own government in Washington for the trade problem. China is just looking out for its own, as our government should do by enforcing our laws or mutual trade agreements.
    Who or what are you going to blame for your Polish friend’s plight, NAFTA? I guess that it must be the U.S. fault for just not opening its borders wide for the entire world without restriction. I’m guessing that you would permit no one to compete with your friends for an opportunity. I guess that it’s not the fault of the Poles or their immigrant parents who neglect to heed the fact that they came here on a visa that subsequently expired. I guess that that sworn statement to return to their homeland upon expiration of their legal status meant nothing to them. Or perhapas they never intended to honor their promise at all. Now they’re blaming the U.S. for their own plight. After all, U.S. laws were made to be broken, weren’t they?

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