Immigration reform heating up

"River" by Siobhan McKissic

"River" by Siobhan McKissic

Immigration:  An issue coming further into the public eye as it becomes clearer that roughly 11.9 million illegal immigrants are living in America. Most of these people are part of the American work force, have American-born children, and all live in the constant fear of deportation. Despite party affiliation and intentions, almost all agree that the current immigration system is flawed and the need to change it grows along with the illegal immigrant population.

On June 24th the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) held a campaign meeting at St.Michael’s Cathedral in Springfield to encourage local people to join in the Reform Immigration for America campaign.  After kicking off in D.C. from June 4th to June 6th, this campaign has begun making its way around the country trying to gain the 218 votes from the House of Representatives, 60 votes from the Senate, and the one presidential vote necessary to pass a new immigration reform law. At this particular meeting, MIRA representatives shared their plans for the new bill and their timeline for having the bill written, presented to Congress, and eventually signed by the President.

The very next day, President Obama made one of the first big steps towards reforming immigration policy by meeting with a host of Democrats and Republicans including New York Senator Charles Schumer, who is expected to write the bill. Many thought that this highly anticipated meeting, which was postponed twice, was meant to “dampen” the hopes of those looking for reform, but it produced the opposite effect. When the meeting ended, the country’s leaders emerged with the common goal of changing the system currently in place, showing that President Obama is serious about getting party sides to compromise and make things happen in this country.

For those hoping to get a look at the new bill, they cannot because it has yet to be written, but Gov. Schumer gave a list of seven guiding principles during a speech at the 6th Annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference. He believes these principles will help to get this bill passed in Congress:

  1. Illegal Immigration is wrong and necessary action must be taken to stop future illegal immigration.
  2. American borders need to be strengthened within a year of a bill’s enactment.
  3. A “biometric-based employer verification system” must be put in place to monitor businesses that would try to use illegal immigrants for cheap labor when such job opportunities encourage illegal immigration.
  4. When the law is passed, illegal immigrants must register themselves and begin to process of legalization or face deportation.
  5. “Family reunification is a cornerstone value of our immigration system. By dramatically reducing illegal immigration, we can create more room for both family immigration and employment-based immigration.”
  6. America wants to encourage the best in the world to come to this country and thus wants to discourage businesses from using immigration policy to hire cheap foreign labor.
  7. The new immigration policy should help to change the flow of unskilled illegal immigrants to “a more manageable and controlled flow of legal immigrants who can be absorbed by our economy.”

Some of the more controversial issues involving declaring English the official language of America and continuing the raids that search out illegal immigrants have yet to be agreed upon. However, the fact that compromise is in the air is enough to keep the campaign going.

In a city with a large immigrant population,8% according to the Census Bureau, Springfield is a place to heat up the immigration talk. Just yesterday, the state advisory council on refugees and immigrants issued Governor Deval Patrick a list of recommendations for immigration policies to assist those living in Massachusetts. The list has not been made public because it is still a draft, but it is not known when a final draft should be expected. However, this is a sign that those in this state are showing that they plan on making this bill into law and it is important for those that want to change the system to become involved.

The most important fact about this new bill is that since it hasn’t been written there is still time for people to tell their representatives how important immigration reform is to them.  MIRA has been working to get people to contact their representatives and the Reform Immigration for America Campaign has been working to get the word out across the country. With new technology, people can even be sent important updates on the campaign via text message.

To join the Text Alert Action Network, text “justice” to 69866. You may text “justicia” to have the alerts sent in Spanish.

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One Response

  1. Great post, Siobhan! Thanks.

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