What Would Truly Humane and Progressive Immigration Reform Look Like


On Tuesday Oct 13th, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus led by Rep. Luis Gutierrez(Il-D), will be joined in Washington by 2,500 representatives of labor, immigrant advocacy and civil rights groups, and faith-based communities from across the country to unveil what is being touted as a list fundamental principles behind a new progressive, comprehensive immigration bill to be introduced before the end of the month.

"I am overwhelmed by the support of immigrant, faith-based and community-based organizations in urging me to introduce comprehensive immigration legislation. I look forward to joining them on Tuesday so that I can share with them more specifically the key principles that will form the basis of such a bill," said Rep. Gutierrez.

"We simply cannot wait any longer for a bill that keeps our families together, protects our workers and allows a pathway to legalization for those who have earned it," continued Rep. Gutierrez. "Saying immigration is a priority for this Administration or this Congress is not the same as seeing tangible action, and the longer we wait, the more every single piece of legislation we debate will be obstructed by our failure to pass comprehensive reform."

"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 and to make a better life for your family, you will have the opportunity to earn your citizenship.  We need a law that says it is un-American for a mother to be torn from her child, and it is unacceptable to undermine our workforce by driving the most vulnerable among us further into the shadows."

"I believe the support base for this kind of compassionate and comprehensive legislation is strong and far reaching, and I believe the votes are there to pass it. I have always said that immigration reform will not be easy; but it is time we had a workable plan working its way through Congress that recognizes the vast contributions of immigrants to this country and that honors the American Dream."

We have yet to see Rep Gutierrez's recommendations, but after years of controversy and partisan fighting, we are still no closer to any meaningful new national immigration policy than we were over eight years ago when President Bush first claimed he would make it a top priority upon taking office. Much of the blame for this situation clearly rests on the shoulders of the anti-immigrant wing of the Republican Party, who chose political expediency and a divisive brand of slash and burn political theater over the responsible execution of their duties.

But, there have also been divisions within the Democratic Party that have helped stall the effort. While generally stating support for some sort of "comprehensive reform," there has been little consensus on exactly what that reform should entail.

We’ve seen numerous compromise bills, intended to find a “sweet spot” that would appease all parties, go down in flames after concessions were made to restrictionists to accept their far-right policies as a prerequisite to even bringing the issue to the table, only later to find that no matter how many concessions were made, or how restrictive or punitive the legislation ...they were never satisfied.

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