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Letter No. 66: Immigration reform now!

Felicia Persaud | 2/20/2014, 11:17 a.m.
Felicia Persaud

Dear Mr. President,

As I sit here writing this 66th letter to you, the question on my mind is, what should be the next strategy now that House Speaker John Boehner has chosen short-term political gain over immigration reform?

The reality is that with each passing month, the desperation of 11 million-plus migrants, anxious for some form of legalization, will become more palpable—so much so that they are likely to look to any means necessary to get a driver’s license, a Social Security card, a work permit and, of course, the much coveted green card.

This includes falling prey to unscrupulous immigration attorneys, consular corps, U.S. citizens looking to make a buck, employers and even pastors—just about anyone who throws out the bone of a promise of getting them their “papers.”

Every day this is happening—even though we may hear about it less and less, because many of these immigrants have chosen to stay below the radar. I’m not sure if even the National Security Agency can find them!

There are pastors in churches who have created a scam out of “sponsoring” temporary religious workers through the R visa—all for cash, of course. Then there are attorneys who promise to find a way in the system because of their connections to certain immigration workers who can help approve applications that are a long shot. Again, for a few thousand dollars!

And of course, there are the U.S. citizens who will marry a non-immigrant and get them their green card for sometimes $10,000-$15,000.

Is this the sort of society you are willing to let the Republicans continue to foster even as they gripe falsely about the inability to uphold the “law”? As my grandmother always said: “The stricter the government, the wiser the population.” This statement will continue to ring through in the underground society where undocumented immigrants will find a way to survive because they are not going to self-deport.

No, no, they have been here for many years already—many for over a decade—and they are not going anywhere. So either you deport them all—and we all know the U.S. government can ill afford to—or you find a way around the many laws on the book to make a way for them that will shut down the underground economy that is sure to boom more.

Or maybe Sen. Charles E. Schumer, finally makes sense after he made his stupendously stupid comments about delaying reform until after you leave office. This week, the senator saved face in my book after suggesting a legislative maneuver known as a discharge petition.

This measure, according to Schumer, would allow supporters of overhauling the nation’s immigration laws to circumvent the Republican majority in the House by bringing the measure directly to the House floor, bypassing the regular committee process.

As The New York Times pointed out, this is a “rarely successful tactic, though it was used in 2002 to eventually win passage of a major campaign finance law.” Of course, Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, was quick to shoot it down, saying it has “zero chance of success.” What else is new?

But I believe the senator is on to something. Maybe it’s time you use your phone to make a few calls, especially to the Republicans who have expressed concern about the safety of their seats because of the shift in their voting constituents—those like Rep. Jeff Denham, who are at risk of being voted out in California this September by an angry Latino voting populace that has promised retribution for Republicans in purple states and those in districts with a huge immigrant voting bloc.

Enough with the statements that you have offered a set of principles for an immigration overhaul and you remain hopeful that Congress would act soon on legislation meeting those principles. We know that’s not going to happen—it’s as clear-cut as that. So why not try harder to fulfill your promise to immigrants by any means necessary?

Respectfully,

Felicia Persaud

The writer is CMO of Hard Beat Communications, which owns the brands News Americas Now, CaribPR Wire and Invest Caribbean Now.