Monday, December 07, 2009

A national priority / Public, if not lawmakers, wants immigration reform

Union-Tribune Editorial
A national priority / Public, if not lawmakers, wants immigration reform

Monday, December 7, 2009 at midnight

Just because a policy debate quiets down doesn't mean the issue has gone away. Most Americans still want immigration reform, even if other concerns like health care reform and the economy have recently taken center stage.

Indeed, it's hard to find anyone who is pleased with the status quo on immigration. Even in a political climate where consensus is rare, there is general agreement that the current system is dysfunctional. Those on the right think it's broken because the borders are porous, while those on the left point to the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States without civil rights or legal protections.

And even when we try to debate those other issues, we still can't get away from immigration. Want to talk about health care? Sure, lawmakers spent months haggling over whether illegal immigrants would be able to participate in a public option, a government-financed insurance program for Americans who lack coverage. What about the economy? Some Americans continue to believe that illegal immigrants are taking jobs that should go to Americans, jobs that could really help the average family in an economic downturn.

Still, according to a recent analysis of polling data by the Pew Research Center, Americans seem to be more patient than they have been in recent years as they wait for Congress and President Barack Obama to get around to concocting an immigration reform plan. Last month, Scott Keeter, director of survey research for Pew, characterized immigration as a "low- to mid-tier issue with the U.S. public" and noted that, in a January poll, only 41 percent of Americans thought immigration should be a "top priority" for Obama and Congress.

Now there are signals that the discussion will begin in March or April of 2010. But, of course, that's only the Washington portion of the conversation we're talking about. Around the country, from Dallas to Des Moines to Detroit, there is really no need to restart the immigration debate because it never stopped. Regardless of what our lawmakers at the federal level have done – or more accurately, haven't done – the immigration issue remains a top concern at the local level. And it will until our leaders roll up their sleeves and fix what's broken.

Lawmakers like to think that they can put off the immigration issue, and avoid a bruising battle. No such luck. The country demands better.
Venceremos Unidos! Education for Liberation!

Peter S. López, Jr. aka~Peta


No comments: