Immigration Reform Now

President Obama gave another great speech, this time at American University , in D.C. on comprehensive immigration reform.  The question I have is this, can he lead?  Under his stewardship, comprehensive health care reform passed, with no republican support, even though there were many concessions made, to the point that the bill is fairly tame and really cannot be called comprehensive, but it’s something, right?  Now the Republicans are calling for its repeal. This is what they’ll be running on in the Fall, despite the fact that about 50% of Americans favor it, or think it has enough good in it that it beats starting over from scratch.  Poor Obama has had a difficult time getting any cooperation from the Grand Old Party of NO.  Not very patriotic in my view, when the opposition party doesn’t even try to work in a spirit of cooperation, and find common ground where it exists, and it does exist and the GOP knows it. It’s all about politics; politics ahead of country.  The Rebubs with a kick in the butt from the Tee-Party are going for the big power grab in the midterms. They’ve fought him on everything: energy policy, Wall Street reform, the BP spill, the jobs bill which has stalled in the wake of Robert Bird’s death, and now immigration reform.

With respect to Arizona, border patrol has been a problem for years, but they way the Republicans make it sound, the undocumented began crossing the border illegally in 2008.  Obama has responded by sending reinforcements to Arizona, where there are more border patrol than ever before, and he is calling for immigration reform to get to the root of the problem.  We have a problem with a leak in the area, but it’s not at the border, it’s out in the Gulf, courtesy of BP.

I’m glad immigration reform is taking center stage.  We have 11 million or so undocumented living here.  Many who are of working age are doing just that, working…and paying taxes by the way, yes taxes, sales tax, property tax, even income tax with an IRS tax id. Oh, and don’t forget the tolls, fees, and that they send money home to their families, a lot of it going to ailing latin american economies, that might otherwise collapse without this support. And immigrants are raising families, going to college, those who can afford it, and some can and some lest we forget are quite gifted, even valedictorians – all in some way or another trying to live the American dream.  Why are people so up in arms about the undocumented?  It makes no sense to me.  It really doesn’t.  I hear they are a strain or drain on services.  But could you imagine what would happen if they were all deported?  There would be an immediate shortage of migrant labor, of building cleaners and restaurant workers.  Talking about a strain on services – try no services.

I agree with the President that we have to crack down on employers, but employers need the workers – crack down, yes, by fining them for exploiting the workers, and then requiring them to pay minimum wages with the benefits that they should be entitled to, based on the number of hours worked. I do think workers who do not have a criminal past should be given some sort of temporary work authorization, with a path to citizenship at some point down the line – it’s not amnesty at all, not at all.  That’s just a demonizing Republican buzzword.

I’m going to stop here, because this is getting long, but stay tuned, I’ll be writing more on my thoughts on the subject in the weeks to come.

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