FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Humane Immigration Reform

by ALVARO HUERTA

The time has arrived for President Obama and Congress to take immediate action on humane immigration reform.

By immigration reform, I am not talking about militarizing our borders, empowering employers to behave as immigration enforcement officials and imposing fines and back taxes on aspiring citizens. Instead, I am talking about allowing labor to cross our borders as transnational capital does, preventing employers from exploiting immigrant laborers and lowering application costs for future citizens.

Too often, when Democratic and Republican leaders speak about comprehensive immigration reform, their message mainly centers on enforcement-dominated policies. For instance, while Obama spoke eloquently about immigrants in his second inaugural address, his administration has deported more immigrants than that of his predecessor, President Bush, during the same time period.

As the Obama administration continues to separate hardworking immigrants from their families and friends, I find it hard to believe the president when he says, “Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity.”

I don’t find the deportation of more than 1.6 million undocumented immigrants during Obama’s first term in office as “welcoming.”

Moreover, given that Republican leaders remain hostile and pay only lip service to Latinos and immigrants in this country, it’s incumbent on Obama and Democratic leaders to invest the huertanecessary political capital for the benefit of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country.

Instead of dehumanizing and blaming recent immigrants for America’s financial woes like the GOP, Obama and Democratic leaders should demand that Latino immigrants be treated with dignity, respect and tolerance.

More specifically, Democratic leaders should educate and convince the public about the pivotal role undocumented immigrants play in America’s social and economic prosperity, highlighting key characteristics like their willingness to sacrifice themselves for their families, a strong work ethic and an entrepreneurial bent.

In developing a humane immigration reform policy, both Democrats and Republicans should learn from past immigrant policies with progressive elements. This includes the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, where immigrants from Latin America, Asia and Africa benefited from family reunification components of the law. This also includes the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, where almost 3 million immigrants qualified for amnesty. Republican leaders should learn from their iconic figure, President Reagan, who signed this legislation into law.

Instead of doing what’s right in both moral and economic terms by proposing another amnesty plan, a recent bipartisan group of senators, also known as the Senate “Gang of Eight,” introduced a regressive, comprehensive immigration reform proposal. It includes a so-called pathway to citizenship for qualified undocumented immigrants.

But it mainly focuses on punitive measures, such as a “secured border” prerequisite before granting citizenship, imposing fines and back taxes, deputizing employers to become more effective immigration enforcement officials and creating an exploitable labor pool of guest workers, like the Bracero Program of the mid-20th century—a program that my father, Salomon Huerta Sr., participated in under inhumane working conditions.

In short, there’s only one humane and simple plan for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country: amnesty.

Let’s get over the hostility to the term, and welcome the people who have been working in the shadows.

Alvaro Huerta is a UCLA Visiting Scholar at the Chicano Studies Research Center. He is the author of “Reframing the Latino Immigration Debate: Towards a Humanistic Paradigm,” published by San Diego State University Press (2013), from which this essay is excerpted.

 

Dr. Alvaro Huerta is an assistant professor of urban and regional planning and ethnic and women’s studies at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He is the author of “Reframing the Latino Immigration Debate: Towards a Humanistic Paradigm,” published by San Diego State University Press (2013).

Weekend Edition
May 06, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Dave Wagner
When Liberals Run Out of Patience: the Impolite Exile of Seymour Hersh
John Stauber
Strange Bedfellows: the Bizarre Coalition of Kochs, Neocons and Democrats Allied Against Trump and His #FUvoters
Joshua Frank
Afghanistan: Bombing the Land of the Snow Leopard
Bill Martin
Fear of Trump: Annals of Parliamentary Cretinism
Carol Miller
Pretending the Democratic Party Platform Matters
Paul Street
Hey, Bernie, Leave Them Kids Alone
Tamara Pearson
Mexico Already Has a Giant Wall, and a Mining Company Helped to Build It
Dave Lindorff
Bringing the Sanders ‘Revolution’ to Philly’s Streets
Margaret Kimberley
Obama’s Last Gasp Imperialism
Carmelo Ruiz
The New Wave of Repression in Puerto Rico
Jack Denton
Prison Labor Strike in Alabama: “We Will No Longer Contribute to Our Own Oppression”
Jeffrey St. Clair
David Bowie’s 100 Favorite Books, the CounterPunch Connection
David Rosen
Poverty in America: the Deepening Crisis
Pepe Escobar
NATO on Trade, in Europe and Asia, is Doomed
Pete Dolack
Another Goodbye to Democracy if Transatlantic Partnership is Passed
Carla Blank
Prince: Pain and Dance
Josh Hoxie
American Tax Havens: Elites Don’t Have to go to Panama to Hide Their Money–They’ve Got Delaware
Gabriel Rockhill
Media Blackout on Nuit Debout
Barry Lando
Welcome to the Machine World: the Perfect Technological Storm
Hilary Goodfriend
The Wall Street Journal is Playing Dirty in El Salvador, Again
Frank Stricker
Ready for the Coming Assault on Social Security? Five Things Paul Ryan and Friends Don’t Want You to Think About
Robert Gordon
Beyond the Wall: an In-Depth Look at U.S. Immigration Policy
Roger Annis
City at the Heart of the Alberta Tar Sands Burning to the Ground
Simon Jones
RISE: New Politics for a Tired Scotland
Rob Hager
After Indiana: Sanders Wins another Purple State, But Remains Lost in a Haze of Bad Strategy and Rigged Delegate Math
Howard Lisnoff
Father Daniel Berrigan, Anti-war Hero With a Huge Blindspot
Adam Bartley
Australia-China Relations and the Politics of Canberra’s Submarine Deal
Nyla Ali Khan
The Complexity of the Kashmir Issue: “Conflict Can and Should be Handled Constructively
Ramzy Baroud
The Spirit of Nelson Mandela in Palestine: Is His Real Legacy Being Upheld?
Mel Gurtov
North Korea’s New Weapons: Full Speed Ahead?
Alli McCracken - Raed Jarrar
#IsraelSaudi: A Match Made in Hell
George Wuerthner
Working Wilderness and Other Code Words
Robert Koehler
Cowardice and Exoneration in Kunduz
Ron Jacobs
Psychedelic Rangers Extraordinaire
Missy Comley Beattie
It’s a Shit Show!
Kevin Martin
President Obama Should Meet A-Bomb Survivors
David Macaray
Our Best Weapon Is Being Systematically Eliminated
Colin Todhunter
Future Options: From Militarism and Monsanto to Gandhi and Bhaskar Save
Binoy Kampmark
The Trump Train Chugs Along
Thomas Knapp
The End of the Bill of Rights is at Our Fingertips
Cesar Chelala
A Lesson of Auschwitz
John Laforge
Dan Berrigan, 1921 – 2016: “We Haven’t Lost, Because We Haven’t Given Up.”
Norman Trabulsy Jr
John Denver and My 40th High School Reunion
Charles R. Larson
Being Gay in China, Circa 1987
David Yearsley
Skepticism, Irony, and Doubt: Williams on Bach
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail