President Obama announced in a Rose Garden speech today that the Executive Branch of the United States government, by executive order, will not deport some 800,000 undocumented teenagers and children who currently face deportation for a period of two years. The children will get work permits for two years placing deportation on hold. The President called upon Congress to enact the Dream Act that puts millions of young people who have grown up in the United States undocumented on a path to United States citizenship. He suggested the Dream Act was itself a path to comprehensive immigration reform which he wants put on the agenda of the nation.
By contrast, Florida Senator Marco Rubio has suggested a Dream Act without the path to citizenship. That suggests he feels undocumented persons are merely of use for the labor they provide in low-wage jobs. Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee for President favors self-deportation of undocumented persons in the United States and Arizona’s immigration enforcement law SB 1070. In the very minutes after the President’s announcement Republican Congressional leaders indicated the President’s action may be illegal and they pointed to violation of the law by the very same young people the President’s new immigration policy affects.
A reporter shouted out a confrontational question at the President in the midst of his speech, something that is rarely done. The President was clearly angry at the interruption but deftly handled it by telling the man that what he was doing today was “the right thing to do.” He indicated that the young people affected by this Executive Order are already making a contribution to the United States that is positive.
Struggles for Justice fully supports today’s move on immigration policy. We support the Dream Act will a full and open road to citizenship, and we call for Congress to act on both policies and to proceed to reform our broken immigration system.
What we support is immigration reform that would require the twelve million undocumented persons in the United States to openly acknowledge in a U.S. Court of Law that they violated unknowingly as children, or intentionally as adults, U.S. Immmigration Law, and to have a civil violation of the law entered into the record for all time. They ought to pay an appropriate fine to make restitution to the American people for this violation of the law. This shows the highest respect for the laws of the United States and the principle of the rule of law in general. And of course, they would have this civil violation of the law, which illegal entry into the U.S. presently is, on the record forever but without prejudice.
In exchange, the twelve million undocumented people would have two pathways to select from. They could accept a green card and to meet all legal requirements under the procedure, or to select citizenship as legal immigrants do. That pathway would be identical to the time-tested path to American citizenship Americans have used for centuries under the Federal Constitution of the United States.
Should this new policy encourage new illegal crossing of U.S. borders, violations of Visa limitations and more, the immigration reform law passed by Congress as soon as it can be debated, proposed, and passed into law would address these very points. It is obvious the government is going to have to monitor those who enter the United States on Visas more carefully, and secure the borders of the United States from criminals and those who threaten U.S. national security. Struggles for Justice strongly supports raising the numbers of Visas granted to persons wishing to come to the United States, and raising the number of legal migrants to the this country. We ought to be offering green cards and for those who love being here at the nation’s colleges and universities or who have started businesses here pathways to citizenship to retain the best and brightest of those who have come to help build our nation further.
We stand in fierce opposition and with feet firmly rooted in the grounds of justice against anyone who fears new people coming into the country to work, live, raise families, and start businesses and create jobs here. Racism, ethnic bigotry, and striking out in fear at the frustrations we all feel with the current economic distress the nation is experiencing is wrong. Anyone who espouses these ideas will be condemned in these pages in the strongest possible terms.
The undocumented overwhelmingly work hard in low-wage jobs, most not even on the record for employers with regard to Social Security and the employers meeting the demands of U.S. Immigration Law. They pay taxes. They follow our laws beyond their illegal entry into the nation at rates that equal or exceed natural born, native-born U.S. citizens. They respect this nation. They have children and love them as much as anyone else does. They are overwhelmingly people of strong faith.
The fact of the matter is, that most of the people among us in undocumented status have been here since the last period of immigration amnesty expired under President Ronald Reagan, a Republican ultra-liberal.
The love of Jesus Christ that his disciples are to “love one another” and what is plainly just, right, good, moral, and decent require us to do better than to harass and hound and to frighten people who have grown up here in the United States or lived here for years and who desire to be full participating citizens or hard working green card migrants.
It is time for comprehensive immigration reform and Struggles for Justice supports it at the earliest possible moment and on terms that are the most generous possible while still not compromising the public safety or national security of the United States.