Blueprint for a Road that Already Is : #CIR

And they’re off! “The Road to Immigration Reform Starts Today!” announced one organizational email. They are talking about a set of immigration reform principles – not an actual bill – that was released today by a bi-partisan group of eight senators :Senators Bennet (D–CO), Durbin (D–IL), Flake (R–AZ), Graham (R–SC), McCain (R–AZ), Menendez (D–NJ), Rubio (R–FL), and Schumer (D–NY).

What’s interesting about all the congratulatory messages that ask people to support immigration reform,  is that they lack an actual analysis of what is in the principles. Since the principles include “a pathway to citizenship”, it’s assumed to be good enough.

It is extremely disheartening to read messaging that renders invisible the years of work by immigration and human rights activists. Claiming that the work begins now, denies the role that some of these very same “pro-migrant” orgs have played in watering down the demands of comprehensive immigration reform. It has now become acceptable to become reactive instead of proactive. Instead of telling the administration and Congress what we want, we are expected to celebrate lawmakers rehashing old policies and basically doing their job – working together. IIt is no longer enough to say, stop the deportations. That is obvious and it has been for some time.
It is no longer enough to say that enforcement only policies like Secure Communities need to be defunded. We have to be willing to stand up and say things like:

1: The border is “secure” so let’s stop pouring money  into agencies and organizations that put more boots on the ground and enforcement technology.

2: Being able to live in the United States “with papers” shouldn’t be based on some merit system that awards the “smart” immigrants. If we really want to award success then we need to look at how the educational system in the US perpetuates cycles of poverty and underachievement, filtering a limited amount of “success stories”.

3: Employment verification systems like E-Verify have proven themselves flawed and harmful to the labor market so stop the push to make this mandatory. Immigrants are not taking peoples’ jobs. That’s the unspoken subtext. Cut it out. We will not accept the introduction of a biometric identification card which has been the subtext for much of this portion of discussion in years past.

4: We don’t want a guest worker program. We want fair labor standards for farmworkers. How is the proposed Agricultural Worker Program different from H-2A visa program already in place?

5. This get to the back of the line language means people who are already in the United State will have to wait how long before they can get papers? 10 years? 20 years? Is this the beginning of an expanded DACA like program that will allow people to stay in the US in a limbo status indefinitely? How do immigration court backlogs figure into this line?

6: Who will determine what makes an immigrant “seriously criminal” or a threat to national security  and thus ineligible for citizenship and targeted for deportation?

7. Limits on accessing federal public benefits for “lawful probationary immigrants” helps to perpetuate poverty and poor health outcomes in immigrant communities. This isn’t being “tough”, this is punishment.

8: Having an English language requirement in order to earn a green card is reminiscent of Jim Crow era literacy laws. There is already a proficiency requirement to become a naturalized citizenship. Making it a requirement for permanent residency has one intention, to limit the amount of people eligible.

9: Creating a fast track to citizenship for DREAMers and some agricultural workers while leaving others to languish in undefined lines will serve to further separate families who have mixed statuses and mixed immigration histories. No to a hierarchy of applicants.

I have read the principles and don’t think there is much to praise. A framework is not a policy change and we have had multiple frameworks put out there already. i think it’s especially important to note that there is no mention in the framework of same lgbtq immigrant families and how they would earn their pathway to legalization or citizenship. I’m a little tired of politicians going on tours, again, holding townhalls, again, that will inevitably lead to the same point unless we do something different. Touting an “earned” pathway to citizenship ignores the anti-immigrant histories and policies in the United States. If anyone has to earn anything, Congress and President Obama need to earn the trust of our communities by giving us more than just the same old same old.

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8 comments on “Blueprint for a Road that Already Is : #CIR
  1. 1) The border will never be secure as long as Mexico is an oligrachy that refuses to provide any opportunity for its own citizens.

    2) We need highly skilled immigrants, and I see nothing wrong with expediting the applications of those with advanced degrees in STEM subjects.

    3) I agree with #3. But they have to come up with some way to ensure that illegal immigrants will not be allowed to work here once immigration reform is passed, or it will never pass.

    4) We need a guest worker program for agriculture. Farmworkers don’t make enough to live in CA year round, and Central CA is the most poverty stricken area of the state. Their wages won’t go up because we have to compete with food producers around the world.

    5) Good point. They need to expedite the process for everyone.

    6) Probably DHS

    7) If the welfare rates go up while people are waiting to become legal, the country won’t tolerate it. They have to be able to support themslves to remain here just like any other immigrant. Of course Cubans get massive welfare benefits as soon as they arrive and that’s just fine with everybody. Hypocrites.

    8) People need to learn how to speak English so they can be more independent, and so their children do better in school. The opportunities are in English.

    9) They just want those Dreamers in the military. You know most of them don’t have enough money for college.

    I think this is a good start.

  2. Pingback: President Obama’s #CIR Principles Nothing to Celebrate

  3. While I appreciate your unwillingness to take the crumbs that so often fall down for immigration reform activists, I can’t help but implore you to have patience. Not that everything’s perfect and perfectly set up, but:

    1)”What’s interesting about all the congratulatory messages that ask people to support immigration reform, is that they lack an actual analysis of what is in the principles. Since the principles include “a pathway to citizenship”, it’s assumed to be good enough.”

    Everything is in the abstract right now. These “principles” that are parroted everywhere are such pie-in-the-sky jumbles of words that I’m not ready to begin to tear them apart yet. It’s like playing with cotton candy. Waiting on something more.

    2) “Claiming that the work begins now, denies the role that some of these very same “pro-migrant” orgs have played in watering down the demands of comprehensive immigration reform. It has now become acceptable to become reactive instead of proactive. Instead of telling the administration and Congress what we want, we are expected to celebrate lawmakers rehashing old policies and basically doing their job – working together. ”

    I have seen orgs over-aiming, asking for more, coming to the line with demands plus more in hand, plainly. Not watering down. Perhaps this could be a future post on your part? And the celebration- ah, it’s politics. We’ve got to continually hold up our allies. This is the way things work– the key word- WORK. As in TOWARD the goal. I guess I’m coming from a more “play the game” POV.

    3) Re “get to the back of the line”- let’s admit it. The line (per se, the one they are talking about) starts in the home country. Immigrants here in the US will never truly go all the way to the back of the line, no matter how much lip service Rubio, Obama, et al. give it. They are here in their communities.

    First time I’ve read you. SUPER interested and definitely looking forward to more.

  4. Hi Allena,

    Thank you so much for taking time out to respond to some of the points I make.

    The problem with not paying attention to the jumble of words – which I agree is all we really have, is that we get stuck. We were stuck with these same points in 2009 and never moved passed them. I too want to details which is why I’m pressing up against what we have been given.

    I think we are seeing more organizations than in 2009 asking for more but the more traditional/older orgs have been not really pushing back at all. I won’t name names yet but i get the email blasts.

    I don’t know if i necessarily call these orgs allies really. While I’m not privy to all the behind the scenes convos like i was back in 2009 – i really worry about what they negotiating down. If orgs are really progressive they will start the negotiating from a igh point. It is a game, no doubt but that doesn’t mean we arrive to game without our full uniforms on.

    The line refers to families waiting in the home county but it also refers to backlogs in the immigration court system. No doubt people who are here are staying here if that’s what they want (aqui estamos y no nos vamos) but i think the idea of expecting currently undocumented immigrants 10, 15, 20 years before they can work here legally is a real problem. i worry about what I see as an increasing promotion of a limbo status.

    Glad to have you as a reader. I will be checking out your site as well.

    M.

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