Obstacles to immigration reform

Now that the immigration reform bill is finally taking off, anti-immigrant voices can’t figure out how to stop it. Yesterday they stooped low enough to try to stop the legislative process because of the horrifying bobings in Boston. Senators have shown that they really understand the need for this overhaul, and now they must show the same commitment to continue pushing the bill.

The bombs that scarred Boston forever and horrified the rest of the country must be investigated and those responsible punished to the full extent of the law. However, mixing this sad event with the immigration overhaul is a smokescreen and a distraction. It is happening at a time we should be discussing the content and details of the bill, not whether or not the reform should happen at all.

Comparing immigrants with terrorists is not new. In fact, it has taken 11 years, after the 9/11 attacks, to correct the stereotype that inspired federal policies that are highly prejudicial for millions of innocent immigrants. This also delayed a substantial change in legislation that is so sorely needed to fix our broken immigration system.

The need for reform is clear and urgent. Latinos made this clear in November when they massively rejected the candidate who opposed legalization for undocumented immigrants. They also made it clear last week, when 100,000 Hispanics took over Washington, D.C. to demand passage of an overhaul that is consistent with our needs and values.

The Gang of Eight—the group of senators working on a bipartisan bill—must move forward with their plan to have a final draft ready this week for debate and a vote. We’re still seriously concerned about a provision in the proposal that postpones access to permanent residency for the undocumented for 10 years or when the southern border is reinforced until it prevents 90% of attempts to cross it.

This condition—which looks like a tactic to make the reform more viable in a reluctant legislative climate—subjects millions of immigrants to a visa experiment with hard-to-predict consequences. Lawmakers should discuss and answer these types of questions now, because there is no room for more delays.