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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Editorials: Washington, Roll up your sleeves and get to work on immigration reform

Originally posted at ImmPolitic blog

Editorials: Washington, Roll up your sleeves and get to work on immigration reform

by Katherine Vargas

Last week, editorials around the country made the case for why Washington shouldn’t wait to pass comprehensive immigration reform. A series of editorials endorsing comprehensive immigration reform in some of the nation’s major dailies followed remarks by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano at the Center for American Progress where she emphasized the need for an immigration system that truly works so that her agency can keep America safe.

We first call your attention to an editorial from a newspaper that has witnessed first-hand the devastating effects of a broken immigration system: the Des Moines Register in Iowa. The editorial’s title instantly set the tone: “Immigration reform is shamefully overdue”. The piece notes that reform will be difficult, but nonetheless, the push must happen now because further delay will worsen our immigration crisis.

The nation can no longer ignore this human crisis…

Passing immigration reform will require more than the sympathetic appeal that most undocumented immigrants – like those arrested at the packing plant in Postville – want only to earn a decent living.

It will require assurance on three fronts:

• Stepped-up enforcement at the border will continue.
• Employers who hire undocumented immigrants will face harsher penalties to provide genuine deterrence.
• Quotas for legal immigration will be flexible to meet the needs of employers who cannot find Americans to fill jobs. This need must be met both for positions that require highly educated employees and work that pays low wages. Temporary guest-worker programs should be part of reform, too, with safeguards against employer abuse.

-Immigration Reform is Shamefully Overdue, November 23, 2009
In Minnesota, the focus was on the economics of a workable immigration system. Here’s an excerpt from the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
In the shallow, often misinformed rhetoric over immigration, we too seldom hear the case for reform made in economic terms.

That may be changing—at least in Minnesota. A new report from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute and the Minnesota Business Immigration Coalition pulls together compelling evidence that even in this mostly homogeneous state—where the immigrant population is small but growing—immigrants are playing an increasingly important role in the economy, and we will depend more on their contributions as boomers leave the workforce.

The Economic Case For Immigration Reform, November 20, 2009
And an excerpt from the south central Minnesota’s Mankatto Free Press:
In Minnesota, immigration will play a key role in the state’s economic future, according to the [University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute’ report. Immigrants add not only economic activity such as starting businesses, getting jobs, spending money and paying taxes, they also add to cultural diversity.

We hope legislators at state and national level can act on those facts and boost the economy with sensible and reasonable immigration policies.

Immigration Key to Business Growth, November 20, 2009
The San Francisco Chronicle tool a more pragmatic approach. The country cannot continue waiting for the stars to align and bring about an ideal political climate for immigration reform. They asserted that immigration would continue to be a controversial issue but we still need to move forward from rhetoric into realistic solutions, and legalization is the only practical way to deal with the 12 million of undocumented immigrants already in the country.
Reform would also give Congress the opportunity to make some badly needed changes to our legal immigration system. One of the major reasons people continue to stay in this country illegally is that the legal process for immigration is so difficult and time-consuming. Simplifying and streamlining the system we already have would be an easy way to reduce illegal immigration going into the future.

There’s never going to be a good time for immigration reform in a political sense. It will always encounter disruptive resistance from Americans opposed to anything – no matter how humane or practical – that offers a reprieve to people who entered this country illegally. But it is clearly in this nation’s interest to align immigration laws with both reality and its economic and national security interests. The Obama administration is right to push for reform in 2010.

The Right Time for Immigration Reform, November 22, 2009
Arizona has often been described as “ground zero” in the immigration debate; not only because it’s a border state but also because it has become the testing ground for state and local immigration policies. Within this context, the Arizona Republic examined the state’s former governor and – current Secretary of Homeland Security – Janet Napolitano’s efforts to make the case for immigration reform.
Napolitano is correct to note the advantage of enacting reform now, when illegal immigration is down, rather than waiting until the economy improves and immigrants flood back to meet renewed demand for their labor.

She calls for a “three-legged stool” of reform that includes effective enforcement, improved legal flow to meet labor demands and a fair way to deal with the current illegal population.

…Fixing immigration laws remains crucial to the nation’s security, its prosperity and its moral fiber.

… Reform efforts were smothered in 2007 by the anger of a relatively small group of anti-reform zealots. The status quo stalemate that followed demonstrates the folly of the do-nothing approach.

In addition to our senators, Arizona’s delegation includes a wealth of expertise on this subject – from Rep. Jeff Flake on the right to Rep. Raul Grijalva on the left.

This time, Congress needs to get this done.

Congress Should Act Now, not Wait, November 19, 2009
Opinion leaders agree; the recession and the longer-than-expected healthcare debate create challenges to the immigration reform debate but that does not give Congress a free pass on immigration. Washington’s inaction has resulted in a serious immigration crisis that threatens our economic recovery, jeopardizes lives, and prevents our government and first responders from ensuring our security. We need action from our elected leaders, not further delay. The message is clear, Congress needs to act soon and show the American “can-do” attitude to resolve the country’s greatest challenges.

Here is a list of other editorials on immigration reform:

Miami Herald: Immigration reform, on again

Fresno Bee: Administration must reform immigration

Dallas Morning News: Obama’s bold step on immigration reform

Denver Post: Will immigration push be different this time?

La Opinion: Fight for immigration reform

La Opinion: Sanctions without reform

San Diego Union Tribune: Presidential backbone / Obama failing to lead on immigration reform

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