Minutemen Joining White-Supremacist Militias on the Radical Right | Obama Sez Immigration Reform in 2010
Leading economists agree that the cornerstone of any immigration reform bill should be some form of legalization for the roughly 12 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. One study estimates that an immigration reform bill which includes legalization would yield a net benefit of $180 billion over a ten-year period, while enforcement efforts alone would actually cost $80 billion over the same period.
Anti-immigrant groups like the "Minutemen" vigilantes are not only proliferating, but are rapidly beginning to resemble the white-supremacist and anti-government militias that have populated the netherworld of the Radical Right since the early 1990s. Adding insult to injury, the farcical conspiracy theories that circulate among both extreme nativist groups and right-wing militias are now being mainstreamed by commentators on CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News. Although the various strains of far-right extremism have by no means coalesced into a single movement, the ideological lines that once distinguished them have begun to blur.
Governors and mayors, state legislatures and city councils are playing an increasingly critical role in U.S. immigration policy. As a result of Congress's inaction, states and localities are feeling pressure to take action on immigration, and many of the policies that directly impact immigrants' lives--law enforcement, public benefits, driver's licenses--are being driven by new state and local laws. Some state and local immigration policies have been positive and have helped to integrate immigrants into American communities. Others, however, have had a harmful impact on immigrants as well as on public health and safety.
If you go to the National Dialogue on the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR) website and click through to the Smart and Tough Enforcement of Immigration Laws section, you will find a bit of surprise. Yet despite DHS's thoughtful effort to capture a broader set of immigration policy goals, bigger question remain. What does DHS have to do in the next four years to prove that it can administer immigration policy in a fair and just way? How do we restore trust and transparency? What will it take to make the system work? In other words, when does the real dialogue start?
Last Friday, President Obama spoke to a group of Hispanic reporters at the White House and again reaffirmed his commitment to passing a comprehensive immigration reform bill sometime in early 2010, with a draft to be ready as soon as the end of this year. As Congress continues to draw the curtain of political theater back and forth, it's important to remember that our President is still committed to his campaign promises to "secure our borders, fix the dysfunctional immigration bureaucracy and increase the number of legal immigrants to keep families together, and bring undocumented immigrants out of the shadows.