Saturday, December 8, 2012

Immigration Reform and the Search for Middle Ground

“The terms on which foreigners may be admitted to the rights of Citizens, should be speedily ascertained by a uniform rule of naturalization.” – President George Washington

According to an article by Cameron Joseph published in The Hill, “a coalition of business and religious leaders” joined on Tuesday to “pressure Republicans to embrace immigration reform.”  The National Immigration Forum is a bipartisan group supporting the coalition in its fight against the rigid GOP stance towards immigration reform.  They claim that the GOP needs to find some flexibility in their approach towards immigration.

Richard Land, a “social” conservative and one of the leaders of the group states that “the party’s ability to win national elections going forward depends on winning Hispanic voters, and that the party’s handling of immigration reform was hindering that.”  Furthermore, Land feels that “if they want to continue to be a contender for national leadership in this country they’re going to have to change their ways on immigration reform.”  Curiously, Land only discusses the Hispanics in his fight for immigration reform as if to say that the United States only receives Hispanic immigrants.  What about other immigrants who might be facing challenges of their own?  Clearly, the emphasis on Hispanics is for one reason and one reason only:  Votes. 

If they agree to make changes that allow an easy access to citizenship and voting rights for illegal Hispanics, what message, does the GOP hope to send to the remainder of us who have legally immigrated to the United States.  Many of us, who arrived here legally, confronted challenges of our own and had to make personal sacrifices to get here as well and we did not break laws to do so.  Should we simply ignore people arriving legally from other nations because they are unable to offer the GOP (or any party for that matter) the choice votes during the next election cycle?  What precisely does that say about how far removed we are today from the time when Washington said “foreigners” could gain citizenship in the United States through “a uniform rule of naturalization.”  Indeed, the changes are drastic as Land notes that his group is “more concerned about the result than the methodology and process.”  What precisely are the results Land and his supporters seek?  To signal to future generations of illegal immigrants about how they can achieve citizenship and the right to vote; privileges acquired by legal immigrants through hard work and perseverance. 

Politicians definitely need to tackle immigration issues but to do so by uplifting one group and minimizing the difficulties of another is un-American.  Immigration reform needs a careful analysis and must remain a fair practice for all.  As such, the GOP would benefit from remembering to stand up for solid American principles instead of bundling under pressures of the latest threat even if it comes under the guise of “conservative” supporters.

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