We don't need more statements of intent on immigration reform from politicians in Washington—we need action. And the next couple of weeks are critical.
Across the nation, immigrant advocates have announced that they are holding Senate leaders to a May 1 deadline for introducing legislation. Unless a bill is introduced soon, the nation could lose a pivotal opportunity to fit legislation into a feasible timeline, considering other battles ahead—from a Supreme Court nomination to upcoming midterm elections.
In the past months, members of congress, religious leaders, and grassroots organizations have re-doubled efforts to ensure that the Obama administration fulfills its commitment to reforming immigration.
The costs of doing nothing are all too clear: Report after report in the media has exposed deplorable immigration detention conditions; enforcement zealots running roughshod over civil rights; and an anti-immigrant lobby that lies and distorts basic facts in order to cloud the eyes of decision-makers.
The latest outrage, in the absence of congressional reform, comes from the state of Arizona. The state legislature passed a measure that would give local police free reign to question or arrest anyone on the suspicion of being undocumented. This clearly demonstrates the line that some lawmakers and anti-immigrants are ready to push aside to violate civil and human rights.
Our nation is better than this. We must deliver a strong message to the children who are bearing witness and learning from adult behavior. We must invest in their future and America’s prosperity.
Immigrants are at the core of the future of America. Just last week, on the federal tax filing deadline of April 15, immigrant families cited the research of the Immigration Policy Center and the Center for American Progress: the legalization of undocumented immigrants would generate between $4.5 billion and $5.4 billion in tax revenues over three years.
Responsible Democrats and Republicans must take charge of reform. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) said he would bring a bill to a vote. But he can’t bring a bill forward that doesn’t exist. The two senators who have taken the lead on immigration are New York Senator Charles Schumer for the Democrats and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham for the Republicans. We call on them to present a draft bill so as to allow this process to move forward.
And Congress cannot get this done without a real commitment by President Barack Obama. The president must live up to his past promises to immigrants and their families.
No further stalling. Put immigration reform on the table.
This editorial is published in collaboration with the Haitian Times, Nowy Dziennik, and Caribbean Life.