Immigration Reform: New Year, New Tactics
As a new year begins, immigrants and immigration reform supporters are intensifying the pressure on the Obama administration and Congress to fix the immigration system. This year's efforts include brave new tactics. The first day of 2010, four immigrant students from Florida began a 1,500 mile walk from Miami's historic Freedom Tower to Washington, D.C. The walk, known as the Trail of Dreams, aims to galvanize support for immigration reform that includes equal access to education, family unification, worker rights, and a path to citizenship for the undocumented.
Three of the four students are undocumented. Despite the risk of deportation, they are determined to arrive in D.C. on May 1, where they will be joined by thousands in a rally for immigration reform. One of the students, Felipe Matos says:
We are aware of the risk. We are risking our future because our present is unbearable.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is also pressuring the administration. Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) introduced an immigration reform bill in December stating that the introduction leaves "no excuses for inaction" before the midterm elections. And as reported today, the Caucus is making support of health care reform conditional on White House support for immigration reform this year.
As pressure mounts, the Republican opposition continues to voice the same flawed argument. Congressman Smith of Texas says that it would be irrational for the administration to work on immigration reform as Americans are jobless. The reality is, however, that reforming current immigration laws and providing a path to citizenship for undocumented workers would benefit American workers by leveling the playing field between native-born and immigrant workers and increase immigrant's contributions to the economy.