When the President flies to Nevada to give an important policy speech on Immigration, the nation stops to listen. "Yes, they broke the rules. They crossed the border illegally. Maybe they overstayed their visas. But these 11 million men and women are now here." President Barack Obama, January 29, 2013.
Why did the President say this? Because he was addressing the responses that have come for years from anti-immigrant voices in our country. "Don't reward lawbreakers," they say. "Put them on a plane and send them home to wait at the end of the line." Unworkable reactions that have never been based in common sense. 11 million people are here now without documentation for one reason or another. As the law stands today, if one who has lived in the United States without documentation tries to return home to apply for a visa, his or her chances of returning are very small. And the wait will be quite lengthy. This is a risk for people who may be parents of U.S. Citizen children or spouses of a Citizen. So we have a problem. There is no doubt. Deporting everyone is not a solution. Complaining about those who entered illegally is not a solution either. Its time to fix the problem this time and make sure we never have a problem like this again. I believe the President's proposals provide fair workable solutions for undocumented people to become legal in this country. And it appears that there is a growing broad consensus for the solutions the President is seeking.
This year may truly be different. 2013 could, and should, be the year that long term comprehensive immigration reform is adopted. Its not just amnesty and "freebies." People should be required to pass background checks. Those with criminal histories should be deported. People should be required to show proof that they paid taxes if they worked in the United States, and therefore have benefitted from the services provided here. As this is a English-speaking nation, people should be required to show that they can speak or are learning to speak English. And we need to know who is here. So closing the borders to stop the flow of border crossers is an essential component. And better tracking of those who come here on tourist visas is just as essential.
No one really knows what a final Comprehensive Immigration Reform law will look like. Details are yet to come. But we are finally hearing common sense proposals come from Washington to address a broken and outdated system. To read more about Comprehensive Immigration Reform in 2013, click here.