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The Time is Now For Immigration Reform

The White House's health care initiatives could set the tone for immigration reform.
 
 
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This morning I found myself at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. I was there to observe the public launch of a new campaign Reform Immigration for America. The campaign unites labor, faith, civil rights, pro-immigrant, business and law enforcement to help President Obama make good on his promise to pass immigration reform in 2009. The press conference is one of over 40 events taking place throughout the United States this week.

As I stood amongst the crowd of over 100 media and supporters one thing became crystal clear. This is our historic opportunity, our historic moment, our time to stand together as Americans to unite families, secure worker’s rights, and strengthen our nation. It is no longer good enough to mouth simple platitudes; we must now stand up and more importantly step forward.

Of course the naysayers will tell us that “it is too soon” or that “it is better to wait.” But how can we wait when our friends and families leave for work never to return home? Should we continue to wait while our neighbors lose fingers, arms, and lives on industry floors because there is no law that can really protect them? What about the children amongst us. Shall we tell them to be patient and simply “wait” to be reunited with their parents?

As National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) President and CEO Ben Jealous succinctly put it “It is no longer good enough to talk about ‘family values’ while allowing a broken immigration system to tear those very families apart.” Ben Jealous is right. Simply put immigration reform will be what we make of it.

A source close to the White House with whom I spoke felt the energy as well, saying, “If you want to know what’s really going to happen on immigration watch the political bandwidth of health care. If health care moves it is a clear signal that the possibility of immigration reform has arrived.”

If health care is our signal then we must prepare for our moment. Not tomorrow but today. This morning at the National Press Club I stood among those who are no longer waiting. We should join their commitment for immigration reform today. For America, failure is not an option.