3 THINGS TO CONSIDER ABOUT OBAMA & THE SENATE’S PROPOSED IMMIGRATION REFORM.
President Barack Obama made a big show of outlining the principles of immigration reform Tuesday (you can read them here), just a day after eight of his Senate colleagues did the exact same thing (read those here). Both were essentially press conferences where politicians got to make speeches, seemingly their favorite activity, about the “foundation” of what immigration reform should look like.
Of course there is yet no bill, and based on these “principles,” the bill is going to be very similar to what we’ve seen before: enforcement, enforcement, enforcement, with some backdoor ways for some immigrants to gain legal status.
The unfortunate truth, though, is that the meat of these principles is pretty slim and the bulk of this show seems to be more about “ratings” than actual legislation. However, because it’s such a big topic, I wanted to boil it down to three things we should think about.
1.) It’s not really immigration “reform.”
No one has said anything about fundamentally changing the way our immigration system works. These are all small fixes that attend to one immediate]need or another, but do not address long term issues of immigration in the next 20 or 30 years. We’re not really taking a broad look at how the whole system operates.
2.) Where’s the money to process all these changes?
We know that any immigration process requires paperwork. But have you seen where the president or his Senate colleagues propose more funding so that the processing of this paperwork is attended to bureaucratically?
I see lots of attention giving to enforcement-type issues, making immigrants pay taxes (who’s going to monitor that?), making immigrants learn English (who’s going to run those tests?), doing biometric data and background checks (who’s going to process that?). But have you seen more funding for more government personnel to process all of those things?
It can take up to 115 years to migrate “legally” in this country, so when we send all those people to the “back of the line,” who’s going to be pushing paper so they can become “legal” with this new system? Or, how’s bureaucracy going to work without bureaucrats?
3.) What, exactly, is a “secure border”?
Enforcement, secure borders, safe communities, drug war, what does all of this mean? Let’s get specific: when, exactly, will the border be “secure?” Immigration has already hit net zero and the border is more secure than it’s been in a while. Is a “secure” border one when there are zero drugs being used in this country? Or when zero guns are crossing into Mexico to kill Mexican citizens? Or how about when the companies benefiting from the border industrial complex (um, like Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, Raytheon — need I go on?) have their fill of those sweet, sweet government contracts?
Not likely, at this rate those defense contractors are more likely to say they are rich enough by the time Jan Brewer and her fellow Southwestern governors coalition are ready to indulge in immigration reform (per the Senate’s plan).
I’m not trying to be a downer, but, part of partaking of this democracy is critiquing it, and I for one am not really impressed with our leaders right now.
And that critique leaves a lot of questions unanswered: Did the president or the Senators talk to immigrants and immigrants’ rights’ groups before unveiling these plans? Is there going to be a moratorium on deportations until they figure this out? Will they ever define “secure” or “enforcement”? How long will the president wait for Congress to introduce legislation before bringing forward his own bill?
But, most importantly of all, when will all of these political players stop using immigration as a political device? When will they finally realize that it’s a real issue that affects every one of us, and that for everyone else, this is not a game?
Copyright 2013 by Sara Inés Calderón.
Sara Inés Calderón