The White House and Congress must move quickly to enact just and humane comprehensive immigration reform.
In the wake of the 2012 elections, both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have expressed the need to act on the issue. The window for bipartisan legislation is now open.
Ethnic media have a high stake in the future of immigration policy in this country. That’s why we are joining together to take an editorial stand to urge Congress and the White House: Make 2013 the year of immigration reform.
This is not merely a question of politics. We are calling for comprehensive immigration reform because it is the morally right, economically wise and pragmatically sensible thing to do.
Our country is a nation of laws, and it is clear that U.S. immigration laws need to be overhauled. The immigration system is broken, not only for the 11 million undocumented immigrants, but for the thousands of immigrants who are unable to get visas to work in the United States; for American businesses that can’t hire the workers they need; for the families who wait for years to get visas to join their relatives in the United States.
We need comprehensive immigration reform that will reunite families, reinvigorate the economy, and revive our identity as a nation that thrives on the contributions of hard-working immigrants.
It’s clear that our federal immigration laws are not working. Federal inaction on immigration has led states from Arizona to Alabama to write their own legislation. Even the recently announced Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is a temporary band-aid that does nothing to solve the larger problem of a broken immigration system.
Immigration has been portrayed as a divisive issue. In reality it’s not. All of us would benefit from an effective immigration system that responds to the needs of the market, protects all workers from abuse and exploitation and puts an end to the practice of separating parents from their children.
We need an immigration system that reflects the best traditions of our history — our belief in justice, equality, and economic opportunity.
And as we look to the future, we must make sure that we remain competitive in an increasingly globalized world. We need to continue to attract the best and the brightest, to be the destination of the world’s most innovative workers.
We must act now. Our economy and our future depend on it.
Editor’s Note: This editorial was produced in association with New America Media (http://www.newamericamedia.org), a national association of ethnic media, and is being published by ethnic media across the country to bring attention to the urgency of immigration reform.
Lately Marco Rubio has been busy laying out the Republican Party’s framework for immigration reform to anyone who will listen. “We’re for legal immigration and for enforcing our laws,” the U.S. Senator from Florida explained to Telemundo.
The GOP spokesman on the issue favors an approach that “is not unfair to the people that are trying to come here legally.” Under his plan, the undocumented will be able to apply for citizenship “eventually.”
It’s good news that Cuban-American Rubio is accepting his party’s leadership role on immigration. Or is it? The idea that we need increased border security and enforcement ignores reality. His timetable for citizenship for the undocumented is problematic. And there are legitimate reasons to be skeptical of his conversion from immigration hardliner to immigration reformer.
It’s true that Rubio’s immigration plan is not too different from ideas proposed by President Obama. Both include employment verification mechanisms, a guest worker program and a path to citizenship for the undocumented that includes paying fines and back taxes, if owed.
But Rubio also believes we need more border security and enforcement measures. Not so, suggests the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute. It notes that the U.S. spends roughly $18 billion on federal immigration enforcement, more than it spends on all other law enforcement efforts combined. Nearly all of the border security benchmarks set by Republicans during the 2007 immigration debate have been surpassed.
Meanwhile, 2012 saw record level of deportations, even as the Pew Center reports that illegal immigration has fallen to “net zero.”
Rubio should also stop insisting that we need to enforce our immigration laws because we are enforcing our immigration laws.
He told the New York Times that a “significant but reasonable” amount of time to legalize their status. Then, he said, they must go “to the back of the line” before they can apply for citizenship.
The problem is that Mexican nationals often wait between 15 and 20 years to receive a green card. Under Rubio’s plan, undocumented immigrants would have to get in line behind them, and could wait decades for citizenship.
When the Times questioned Rubio about this inordinately long waiting period, he replied, “I do not have a solution for that question right now.”
If he doesn’t have an answer to that question, it is premature for him to be floating his proposal. Not having critical details worked out renders any immigration plan incomplete.
Rubio’s recent interview with the Wall Street Journal was headlined “Marco Rubio: Riding to the Immigration Rescue.” Yet he may find his ideas a tough sell among Republicans and Latinos alike. Just three months ago, he was campaigning in Florida with Mitt “Self-Deportation” Romney. Rubio was against the original Dream Act and a supporter of SB 1070, Arizona’s harsh immigration law.
Now his Tea Party base and Hispanics are supposed to welcome his new position on immigration? Not too likely. Instead, people may realize that Marco Rubio’s only core conviction is Marco Rubio.
We don’t know the details of Rubio’s immigration proposal because he hasn’t offered any. If he isn’t careful, he risks a repeat of his Dream Act debacle. For two months Rubio publicly promoted his incomplete version of the Dream Act, but never wrote anything down. When President Obama introduced his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals plan, Rubio’s words became moot.
This time around, he needs to put something into action. If he takes a break from his media whirlwind long enough to write legislation, he may have a viable proposal. His challenge is to prove that his views are about opportunity – not opportunism.
Raúl A. Reyes practices law in New York City. Reach him at email@example.com. The commentary was distributed by Hispanic Link News Service.
Most people have the same goals. We want to support our families, we want our children to get a good education that will make them successful, and we want to live in a safe community where people care about their neighbors.
For many Latino families, however, those goals are getting harder to realize. This past year, California’s economic problems impacted the Latino community most severely and there seemed to be little attention from Sacramento to address the issues – let alone solve them.
It may be simplifying things too much to say that the solution starts with creating jobs, but I firmly believe that unemployment in the Latino community is the single most important issue. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2011 California had over 900,000 unemployed Latinos, the most of any state. Many skilled workers have given up and left California to find opportunities in other states. We can all testify to the accuracy of the statistics that show that the scarcity of jobs has forced many young people in the twenties to live with their parents.
The economic downturn has affected all of us, but it has disproportionately affected the Latino community. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center a majority of Latinos (59%) said that they or someone in their household has been out of work in the past year; 75% said that their personal finances are in “only fair” or “poor” shape and 49% said that they canceled or delayed a major purchase in the past year.
In the past, aerospace, furniture, clothing, and other industry sectors provided high paying jobs and small business opportunities. Now, our communities are at risk because the same opportunities are not available. Skilled jobs are hard to find and the government seems to be more interested in regulating rather than facilitating job creation and business growth. .
Unless the state makes it a priority in 2013 to proactively make it easier to create jobs, recovery for Latino communities may not arrive as fast or as be as expansive as we hope. As we watch the governor and legislature begin to formulate priorities for the new session we urge them to seriously address the state’s faulty business climate. And here are three areas where we need them to focus:
First, a job matters and the type of job makes a difference. For Latinos to have the chance to move into the middle-income segment, we need skilled jobs such as manufacturing and construction jobs. Unfortunately, we have seen a decline in manufacturing in our state. According to the California Manufacturing and Technology Association, we have lost 33% of our industrial base (613,000 manufacturing jobs) between 2001 and 2011 and these are jobs that are not coming back.
Second, small business cannot pull California out of the economic decline if business costs keep rising. According to the U.S. Census Bureau the number of Hispanic-owned businesses in the United States increased by 43.7% to 2.3 million, more than twice the national rate of 18.0 percent between 2002 and 2007. Despite these gains, the Small Business Administration reports that in 2007 Hispanic-American-owned businesses had average receipts of $120,000 – far less than that of Asian-owned businesses at $290,000. Higher energy costs, health care mandates, utility increases, business licensing fee increases, over regulation, lawsuits, and higher transportation costs are weighing heavily on Latino businesses.
Third, Latino business owners need local government to assist in the development of jobs and business. Every year, more money flows out of Latino communities to fund state priorities while local governments have their hands tied when they try to attract employers. A good example is development. The redevelopment program that was vital to improving commercial areas in Latino communities was eliminated at the same time efforts to reform the permitting process were shelved. Permitting delays and litigation hurt every business, but they are especially destructive to communities that are struggling and need to demonstrate growth.
Once a state of opportunity, California has lost some of its luster and become a place where risk is too high and reward is too distant. It’s time to develop programs that help our communities attain the same opportunities that were available to previous generations – security for our families, quality jobs, the ability to start or expand a business, and the belief that the best days are ahead.
Ruben Guerra is the Chairman and CEO of the Lain Business Association
Today, Thursday, January 31
10am-12:30pm—Online Safety Event at the PUENTE Learning Center, hosted by The National Cyber Security Alliance and AT&T. PUENTE Learning Center is located at 501 S. Boyle Ave., LA 90033.
5:30-7:30pm— LAC+USC Medical Master Plan Open House to discuss redevelop of the 90+ acres of county-owned land (surrounding the historic General Hospital). Community input encouraged on local programs, services, amenities, economic development and wellness training programs. Location: LAC+USC Medical Center, Inpatient Tower – 2051 Marengo St. Spanish and Chinese translation available. Free childcare, refreshments and parking at Lot 9A on Marengo.
Friday, February 1
3-8pm—Boyle Heights Farmers Market at Mariachi Plaza Metro Gold Line Station (1st and Bailey). Vendors bring organic fresh fruits and vegetables, hot foods, prepackaged nuts and legumes, and a variety of jewelry by artisans. Includes live entertainment.
Saturday, February 2
8am-Noon—Cash for College Workshop at Bell Gardens High School. Students and parents can get free one-on-one help with financial aid, scholarship applications and the California Dream Act application for eligible AB540 students. Students & parents should bring 2012 federal income tax returns, W-2 forms or records of earnings, current bank statements, and records of stocks, bonds or other investments. Students who successfully submit their FAFSA applications during the workshops will also be eligible to receive up to $2,000 in scholarships! For more information, contact Tracy Brendzal at (323)826-5151 or visit www.lacashforcollege.org. The school is located at 6119 Agra St., Bell Gardens 90201.
10am-9pm—Two-Day Monterey Park 2013 Lunar New Year Festival featuring five blocks of fun, food & entrtainment along Garvey Ave. between Garfield and Alhambra Avenues. Continues Sunday from 10 am to 7pm. For more information visit the Lunar New Year webpage: http://www.ci.monterey-park.ca.us/index.aspx?page=817 .
10am—Arroyo Seco Library in Highalnd Park Hosts Free SAT Prep Class. Princeton Review will administer the full length practice test. Please bring a calculator. Sign up at the reference desk to reserve your place. Practice test will begin at 10:00 am and end approximately at 2:30 pm. The library is located at 6145 N. Figueroa St., LA 90042. For more information, call (323) 225-0537.
Tuesday, February 5
6-7:30pm—Montebello Library Presents “Meet Franklin D. Roosevelt,” as performed by Peter Small. Interactive portrayal by Small looks back at President Roosevelt’s accomplishments in WWII, rebuilding after the war and other accomplishments. Small has performed at the Reagan & Nixon Libraries. The Library is located at 1550 W. Beverly Blvd, Montebello 90640. For more information, call (323) 722-6551.
Wednesday, February 6
4-6pm—Bell Gardens Library Presents The Joy of Cooking Chinese Food-Celebrate Chinese New Year by learning how to cook some delicious Chinese dishes. Free admission. The library is located at 7110 S. Garfield Ave. Bell Gardens, 90201. For more information, call (562) 927-1309.
6:30-8:30pm—How Will Federal Funds Transform Your Community? Attend a free information session on L.A.’s proposed plan for using federal funds to improve local neighborhoods. Location: Boyle Heights Technology Youth Center: 1600 E. 4th St., LA 90033. If unable to attend, email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Boyle Heights Chamber of Commerce Meeting on Feb. 12 at noon at the Hollenbeck Police Station (Community Room) located on 2111 E. First St., LA 90033.