Letter No. 30: Immigration reform now! (36101)

Dear Mr. President,

Good for you! Thank you for insisting that you will not support “narrowly tailored proposals” that do not meet the goal of “comprehensive immigration reform.”

Republicans just don’t seem to get it: the fact that most Americans voted against them and their policies on Nov. 6. This week they were back at it again, trying hard to push through what they feel is a piecemeal solution to the country’s archaic immigration laws.

Somehow, they are under the impression that if they act quickly and get a bill introduced, then they will pre-empt you and the Democrats, and immediately win over the voting bloc of Latinos and other immigrant voters. (In another lifetime maybe!)

On Nov. 27, outgoing U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas}, introduced the Achieve Act, which she says would provide legal status for immigrants brought to the country illegally as minors. Co-authored with U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) the measure would create a new visa system affecting “young people who intend to pursue a technical or college degree, or serve in the U.S. military.” The proposal does not guarantee citizenship.

The bill, interestingly, is similar to the current “deferred action” policy your administration put in place in June, so it’s not clear how this bill would work along with that policy.

But the hypocrisy is clear. Republicans, until recently, were adamantly opposed to the DREAM Act and versions of it, yet here are Kyl and Hutchison adding their own version weeks after the shellacking of Nov. 6.

Then there is the STEM Jobs Act of 2012, authored by former harsh immigration reform critic Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas). Here is a man who has said authorities should be notified when undocumented immigrants are admitted to hospitals and called for an end to birthright citizenship for children born to illegal immigrants in the U.S.

Suddenly, Smith has developed a crisis of conscience; so much so that even the Federation for American Immigration Reform is criticizing the bill, which aims to create a new immigration program to make up to 55,000 STEM visas available to advanced-degree graduates of U.S. universities in the science, technology engineering and math (STEM) fields to help Silicon Valley in its quest for smart employees.

The reality is that immigration reform has to be a comprehensive approach, not one that will satisfy the short-term needs of Microsoft, Cisco and the like. Any immigration bill worth its salt has to ensure a pathway to citizenship for the 11.6 million undocumented immigrants living in the shadows of this nation, yet paying taxes and contributing to keeping the economic engine chugging along.

Sorry, Republicans: A sudden crisis of conscience based on the behest of rich companies will not work. Mr. President, glad you told them where to shove it. Now let’s get back to the real issue: comprehensive immigration reform.


Felicia Persaud

The writer is founder of NewsAmericasNow, CaribPR Wire and Hard Beat Communications.