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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Our Time to Fight for Immigration Reform is Now

By Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. Originally posted on the ImmPolitic blog.

I spent the last week meeting with people from Texas to New York to California who want our nation’s broken immigration system fixed. Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, people of faith and people of conscience, immigrant workers and American workers, labor and business – the people are angry.

They are angry at the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives.
People want solutions, and they want Washington DC to accomplish something.

All these people that I had the opportunity to talk to, coming from all different perspectives know that it’s not going to be easy. They know the politicians and the media would love to do nothing by keeping alive this tired story of legal versus illegal because they think it gets them votes or ratings. The people know Democrats have become the party of “I Can’t” and Republicans have become the party of “I Won’t.” We know we are running behind, but we are still very much in the game and at this moment our issue is unique in its ability to say to Democrats and Republicans “You’d better.”

Because something is happening.

Recent events in Detroit, Cincinnati, Phoenix and Raleigh saw unprecedented numbers of people come out, as faith, labor, business and immigrant leaders are coming together to be counted and heard.

And it was impossible not to notice that the commitment and tenacity of each and every leader I met with over the past week has been growing stronger. Whether it is fairness in the job market, equality of tax payments or justice for all, everyone’s desire to fight is intensifying with each day.

It’s as if everyone heard Congressman Gutierrez, when he said in Los Angeles earlier this week, “You don’t go to McDonald’s and order justice at the drive through.”

We know our path to a functioning immigration system that ensures fairness, equity and justice is long, winding, and fraught with peril. Our nation has had to endure this path for decades and now, people want action.

So, although Washington DC may very well fail our Nation, we cannot fail our communities. Just as the failure to fix the broken system has hamstrung all of us, real immigration reform will help all communities. Native born workers can understand they will benefit from a reformed immigration system that equalizes the labor market, business owners understand they will benefit from a reformed immigration system that punishes unscrupulous employers, and families understand they will benefit from a reform immigration system that stabilizes communities.

The anger is real, the demand for a solution is urgent, and our time to fight is now.

See you on March 21st!



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