If you have followed the goings on in Congress lately on the great debate to reform our immigration system it’s become clearly apparent that we have arrived at a defining juncture in the process.
Which is why this week, the LIBRE Initiative, a non-profit national grassroots organization is launching the national bilingual, multi-media campaign, ESTAMOS CONTIGO (We’re With You)- which calls on the U.S. Hispanic community to lend their full support to immigrants, business owners, community leaders and all else who endeavor to advance reform that addresses the major issues plaguing the U.S. immigration system: the security of our borders; an antiquated visa program; the undocumented children of immigrants and adjustment of status for the 11 million currently residing in America without legal authorization.
It is high time we took to raising our voice in support of reformers on both sides who are courageously addressing the lessons of past reform failures head-on and working to strengthen our families, our communities, our economy, and preserving the American way.
- Daniel Garza
We enter the fray because, of course, there is broad agreement that the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) has been a constant source of disastrous results and perverse outcomes. Consequently, and I would argue that we have been needlessly enmeshed in a high pitch debate ripe with wild exaggerations, cultural grievances, and rhetoric that I will generously describe as uncouth.
Truly, few issues have incited higher levels of encouragement in anticipation of its passage, or conversely provoked more angst all at once.
We cannot get lost in the heavy noise of detractors that attempt to drown out our nation’s history and remarkable ability to absorb one wave of immigrants after another and their vast, far-reaching, and incalculable contributions to the prosperity of the United States.
As such, we should not fear the future.
Nonetheless, it has been popular to point to Republicans as the most responsible in blocking past attempts at reform. It is, I submit, a myopic view. They are, if you listen closely, more specifically opposed to a repeat of past failures. And that makes all the difference in the world.
In fact, Democrats have been much more complicit than they are willing to admit when it comes to Congress’ inability to pass reform in previous attempts. It was, after all, a Democrat-led House who failed to gain passage of the 2007 bill after a Republican-led Senate had approved the legislation.
Things seem to be different now.
After benefiting from decades of campaign promises founded on a false premise –wrongly assuring the Hispanic electorate they alone had the will and the political wherewithal to achieve passage of reform– today, smartly, and I imagine reluctantly, they have been making more and more concessions to Republican demands and forfeiting much of their electoral self-interest in order to arrive at a true bipartisan arrangement.
And so, it is high time we took to raising our voice in support of reformers on both sides who are courageously addressing the lessons of past reform failures head-on and working to strengthen our families, our communities, our economy, and preserving the American way. We applaud those who are setting aside party interests to advance change that will place a higher priority on border security improvements and gets millions of people legalized so that they are free to come out of the shadows, work, pay taxes and help contribute to our economy.
While recognizing the prevailing ideas are a vast improvement, we cannot avoid also noting the Senate bill is not perfect – not by any stretch. There are sweetheart deals and earmarks. The legislation is weak on the need for assimilation measures and it sets arbitrary limits on visa entrants. While there are still more improvements to come, in reality, the choice isn’t between good and perfect, it really does come down to voting on a good bill or agreeing to nothing at all.
It must also be noted, we are encouraged by the engagement of proven reformers actively contributing ideas intended to improve upon the legislation. This is where the leadership of Senator Marco Rubio, Congressmen Paul Ryan and Raul Labrador, and many others has been critical to this movement.
The political risks they have undertaken cannot be overstated. But one has to believe that anyone who offers bold, innovative and constructive ideas – as opposed to merely voicing opposition – will, in the end, gain the respect and the praise they deserve. Maybe the support will not come in the short term, but certainly, Americans have a history of looking kindly at those who stood strong in the face of fierce opposition during defining moments in our nation’s history.
Well, to those who are moved by a sense of right and a responsibility to preserve that which is in America’s best interest, we have decided to make our voice in support heard loud and clear. Now, while we stand at a critical crossroads in our nation’s history. Now, before the advent of failure ushers another era of grievous results and other unforeseen outcomes.
To those who are fighting for reform, fighting for the voiceless, and fighting for our nation’s future – ¡ESTAMOS CONTIGO!
Daniel Garza is the Executive Director of The LIBRE Initiative and former White House staffer from 2001-2006.