We Americans can always find ways to make the simplest things very complicated and difficult. It is one of our challenges as a nation and often keeps us from moving forward on important issues in a timely manner. So, it is no surprise to watch as the United States Senate tries to prevent itself from becoming bogged down with regard to immigration reform.
There is little dispute that our immigration process is broken and needs to be fixed. Eleven million undocumented immigrants need the ability to come out of the shadows and move within the legal process that will allow them to be integrated into our society as fully documented immigrants or as citizens. As the Immigration Policy Center has outlined, Senate Bill S.744 "addresses all aspects of the immigration process from border and enforcement issues to legal immigration reforms." It immediately provides a pathway to becoming documented through the Registered Provisional Immigrant program (RPI), it will add due process measures that do not currently exist, it will incorporate aspects of the Dream Act; and provide other avenues for reuniting families, as well as addressing security issues and making provisions for highly skilled and very talented immigrants.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) came out this week with its report that the bill would reduce the federal deficit by $175 billion in the first 10 years and by $700 billion in the second 10 year period. It also stated that revenues would increase by $459 billion due to more payroll and income taxes as a result of a larger legal labor force. Moving forward, it would seem, makes a lot of sense. Moreover, we have seen how the failure to bring about Immigration Reform has kept us from moving forward as a society. We get lost into backward issues like racial profiling which the federal courts in Arizona just determined was being illegally practiced by law enforcement within the state and voter suppression efforts which the United States Supreme Court just rebuked by ruling that states cannot add proof of citizenship requirements to voter registration applications.
With almost 12 million Americans unemployed and the national unemployment rate hovering around 7.6%, being able to move off the issue of illegal immigrants and pretending like we are really going to remove the 11 million undocumented persons from within our borders, allows all including businesses to get back to the work of continuing the nation's economic recovery and putting Americans back to work. Rather than divert these great resources, we could be rebuilding our infrastructure and providing for greater investment in America's future.
We are living in transitional times. The choices we are making today, in terms of immigration policy, businesses practices, our protection of our civil liberties and indeed whether we will choose to accept marriage equality will play very significant roles in how we will fair in a world that is changing rapidly. History has witnessed how the failure to adapt can lead to a rapid decline in a nation's well-being and relevance to the world it operates in. What made America great and can help to keep America great is its immigration policy. As Franklin Roosevelt said when coming into the presidency during America's great depression the "only thing we have to fear is fear itself." As we watch the Senate do its work and as we approach the nation's July birthday, we cannot let senators who wish to live in an America that no longer exists and that we will never go back to dictate this nation's well-being. Frankly, immigration reform should not be rocket science.
We need to remember one of America's great ladies. Her name is Emma Lazarus and most people reading this probably do not have the slightest idea who she is. All I can do is recommend that you remember those great words on the plague of the Statute of Liberty which says "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" Those are her words and our charge as a nation. The Senate needs to pass S. 744, the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act" now!
Michael A. Hardy, Esq. is General Counsel and Executive Vice-President to National Action Network (NAN). He has been involved in many of this nation's highest profiled cases involving violations of civil or human rights. He continues to supervise National Action Network's crisis unit and hosts a monthly free legal clinic at NAN New York City's House of Justice. Attorney Hardy has a weekly blog titled Equal Justice which can be found at www.nationalactionnetwork.net.