This is an opportunity to approve immigration reform, which will help improve President Obama’s overall image and the Latino community’s negative perceptions of Republicans.
Immigration reform was not a centerpiece of the president’s message. His words yesterday before Congress reflected the White House’s strategy of wanting to help, without interfering with the internal debate in the GOP caucus. That way, lawmakers can at least emerge from the deadlock that has brought the reform to a standstill.
The big challenge for Republicans is setting aside populist rhetoric and not falling into demagoguery now that they face November’s legislative election. The most robust sectors of the economy and the business world support a fair, innovative reform.
This reform means officially bringing 11 million people out of the shadowspeople who contribute to the economy with their work and want to be part of the U.S.
Only those who wish to continue to dominate immigrants, both to pay them miserable wages and to ease the fears of those who shudder at the prospect of a diverse country, oppose immigration reform. The reform would put an end to huge problems and the permanent threat of deportation hanging over the heads of undocumented immigrants.
These immigrants must fully become part of our country, just like previous generations of immigrants did. A 21st-century democracy is not built with a population divided between first- and second-class citizens, in which the latter won’t have access to political participation because they are being denied citizenship.
Now isn’t the time for speeches anymore. It’s time for commitment and a serious, constructive debate to build a nation that is fair to everyone living in it. Especially to those who come over in good faith, seeking the opportunities that have always made the U.S. a leader among democracies.