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Want 'Consensus'? Let's Move Past the Basics on Immigration Reform

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Really? No one's going to write a takedown of Derrick Morgan's simplistic talking points about immigration and "amnesty" over on Slate? A news portal and supposed nonpartisan nonprofit provides space for a naked look into "the most important issues America must tackle in the next 30 years," and I'm the only one disappointed enough with Morgan's waste of space on basic talking points and repetitive drivel to put pen to paper?

OK, fine.

First, let's take a look at the this new project Slate has partnered with, called the American Prosperity Consensus, a project of the Copenhagen Consensus Center. The project asks for public weigh-in on the most pressing problems present in America (sic- I assume this means the United States) today. The project is described as "a competition of sorts" in which academic and policy leaders propose solutions to the problems determined by We The People (readers) to be the most pressing today. Seems legit, and even potentially promising and interesting. My shallow research has found just one instance in which the Copenhagen Center was accused of leaning a bit "right," but hey, proposed solutions are just that- proposed solutions.

But this is why I found Morgan's article so disappointing. Morgan (of the definitely right-leaning Heritage Foundation) uses the space and the Consensus project to rehash tired immigration reform misinformation at a very basic level and to front political talking points, instead of deeply probing the issue at a level worthy of this significant project.

Some examples:

Morgan immediately groups immigrants into two competing camps: those most ready to contribute today (by which I guess he means highly educated workers patiently waiting in line), and those who have "circumvented" the system (by which I assume he means "those brown people to our south"), and hints that we need those rule-following groups more than we need the actual members of our communities that are already here, already working, and already contributing and living as our neighbors.

He then takes up this thread about "the line." Oh, the mythical "line"! Shouldn't an article aimed at teasing out and solving our biggest problems at least get this basic concept down? There is no line available for many of those who are our neighbors (both geographically, and neighborhood-wise). In addition, those who are queued up are largely privileged, educated and often even rich within their home countries. Comparing those who have immigrated out of need to these privileged few is disingenuous if we're truly talking about solutions here.

In addition, it was profoundly amusing to read Morgan's take on "fairness." He spoke of people without "scruples" and how it was unfair that they benefit in any way from a path to citizenship. I look at my children's classmates, the waiter who serves my family dinner at least one night a week, and the woman who cares for the after-school crowd next to the local elementary, and am simultaneously amused and disgusted at this (likely) upper-middle class, white male blessed with a system that supported him from his get-go talking about fairness. The lucky sure do get hung up on fairness, preferring to think that life is evenly distributed, which means that their place and privilege were earned, and therefore fair. Meanwhile, immigrants who've built lives without the support of such systems are unscrupulous due to their mere presence here, and giving them any benefit is simply unfair. Never mind the benefits I've garnered, those were fair! Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

Last, I'm disappointed by Morgan's doubt and skepticism when he refers to the 1986 immigration reform. He insists it didn't work, and therefore whatever we do today won't work either. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Morgan! I'm glad to see that we've not learned a thing from our past, and that we can never really hope to improve as we move toward our future! Sure saves us younger folk a whole lot of unnecessary effort!

Err... wait...

Isn't that what this American Prosperity Consensus thing is all about? Doing better for our future? Brainstorming and producing workable solutions for the next generation? If so, why is this pressing issue framed by such a pessimistic take on our ability to solve this issue in a way that serves our needs, preserves our communities and protects mixed-citizenship families in our midst from horrific and inhumane separations?

The goals of the project are both lofty, and legit. I'm listening. But the change the project is aiming for in 2040 and the solutions we'll need to implement between now and then will never be brought to fruition if we continue to have the same conversations, rehash the same old lines and neglect to truly, baldly consider the face and needs of our U.S. communities today.

Hey, American Prosperity Consensus -- do you really want consensus and solutions? Then how about moving past the rhetoric?