To the Editor:
Like many Americans, I’ve been paying more attention recently to the political tussle over immigration reform. While I understand that both sides often argue from positions of conscience, I find myself increasingly discouraged by arguments that devalue the humans behind the issue.
The willingness of a group of people to risk their lives to be here for the chance of a better future seems pretty American to me. We are beyond fortunate to have had forebears who made this sacrifice on our behalf. Granting our national character, and our history, then, undocumented immigrants are already Americans. They deserve a chance.
In human terms, moreover, the present state of affairs is morally unconscionable. These citizens, who have yet to be granted equality under the law, are exploited by the self-same economy that their labor maintains. Our businesses have lured them with a promise that we evidently never intended to fulfill. If, at the present time, immigration is a source of suffering in this country, it is not because immigrants have come here, but because we have refused to recognize their full humanity and treat them with the dignity all humans deserve.
We have spent too much time fighting each other. The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, or S.744, which recently passed the Senate with bipartisan support, is an opportunity to stop squabbling and to take a step in the right direction. The bill is fair.
It is not, as some have argued, a “free ride,” nor does it constitute a form of “amnesty.” S.744 recognizes that, in many cases, the letter of the law has been breached, but it also provides legal status to and human recognition of undocumented immigrants. Indeed, Title I stipulates that, prior to completion of the legalization process, the Department of Homeland Security must “certify that 700 miles of fencing is complete, 38,405 border patrol agents are deployed, and the E-Verify employment verification system,” which prevents employers from hiring undocumented workers, “is in place.”
We have an opportunity to prove that America is a compassionate country, ready and able to act in accordance with its great natural dignity. Please, reader, research the bill. Express your support for it. Let’s work together to help our country heal itself.