September 19, 2012

Milwaukee Courier

Time to Get Real

By Senator Lena C. Taylor

This last June, President Barack Obama issued a sweeping executive order to help create an immigration policy where there had been none. A great first step, his policy was an intelligent move forward in a policy area that has long-demanded real leadership. 

700,000 young high school graduates who had been brought to the country before they were sixteen will no longer have to worry about being deported.  They won’t have to worry about being ripped away from their neighborhoods, jobs, family and friends. 

The President’s move was the brave thing to do.  Now, the federal government can spend more time and resources dealing with criminals, people who actually cause trouble across the nation.  Even with the President’s temporary change in policy, I believe we need to move to create an overall immigration process that actually works for real people. 

Immigration policy under George W. Bush had been an absolute disaster.  In fact, there had hardly been a policy at all.  There was a void where there should have been solutions.  There was pointless fear when there should been new American innovation. 

The citizens of this country, as well as those who aspire to be citizens, have deserved so much more.  New American immigrants have long expressed their commitment to the country.  People move to this country for any number of reasons.  I personally have difficulty faulting anyone coming to this country looking for a better life.  For the beginning of time, people have moved.  That is a fact.  

Conservative rhetoric in this country likes to pretend this isn’t the case.  Some people pretend that we can fix the problem by convincing immigrants to self-deport.  Some Republican leaders think that it would be reasonable do this by making life miserable for the new American population.  While that may drive more young people to take short cuts or turn to crime, I don’t believe the self-deportation rhetoric has anything to do developing a solution.

There are 12 million undocumented, new American immigrants in the United States.  We are not about to send more than a few out of the country.  We simply do not have resources to waste.  Honestly, would you rather spend tax dollars taking away the rights of people who contribute to American culture, or would you rather build better schools, roads, and hospitals?  Whatever happened to freedom?  Whatever happened to common sense?

We need to create a roadmap.  We need a culture where we are willing to stand up and say, “I support new American immigrants who show commitment to our country.”  We shouldn’t be afraid to tell our national representatives to fix the problem.  For too long, we have been forced to deal with the confusion of an America without a coherent immigration policy.  We have lived next to neighbors who never have a line to get into in the first place.  I don’t believe in giving anyone anything they have not earned.  I do believe that it is time to get real about the dreams of the very real new Americans living next door. 

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