The evening news is ripe with controversial legislation, policy and debate from the lawmakers of the United States. Some of the most interesting headlines in recent history discuss the huge battles on labor laws in Wisconsin and Iowa, the anticipation of a Republican front runner for the upcoming Presidential elections, and discussion of our nation’s ability to understand and predict future happenings in Libya, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.Any of these topics could spark a heated conversation in any coffee house or roadside diner in this country but perhaps there is no issue which stays on the forefront, which riles testy tempers, and which needs to be discussed so much as this country’s policies on immigration. Certainly immigration has served as a major theme of nearly every generation of this country’s existence from the early waves of settlers, to the Chinese influx during the railroad days, to the pouring in of Europeans through Ellis Island but never before has the media clung to the issue with such tenacity bringing about the public demand for change.The laws in place are not working to curb illegal immigration and the harshest policies are serving to destroy communities and drive away the very hard-working and humble personalities that this country needs the most.
Now is the time for the government of the United States to considerately review and amend laws regarding immigration to this country and provide a modern, safe and reasonable system for immigration. One of the biggest challenges to immigration reform is the current state of our nation’s economy.The first decade of this century has brought sweeping changes in financial markets and the global economy which has directly impacted the pocketbooks and wallets of everyone in this country. Certainly when President Obama, the son of an immigrant, was elected many advocates for immigration reform became hopeful. But as Obama and Congress have focused on bringing about economic recovery, the promises of immigration reform have fallen, mainly by necessity.As the Federal government has failed to bring about change many states have enacted their own laws, some very harsh and other much more forgiving, in efforts to control their own populations of immigrants.
This has created a chaotic environment that cannot serve to bring about uniform and comprehensive change (Campbell. 2010. Pp. 415-416. ). The delay in reform or uniform enforcement has tremendously impacted the Latino community.One doesn’t even need to understand Spanish and needs only to watch a few minutes of the network newscast Primer Impacto on Univision to see the hectic fear the Latino community in this country faces. The program offers numerous stories of Latinos fearing deportation, or unable to obtain new visas, or in fear of losing family, friends and jobs due to changes in enforcement and new legislation.
Many are fleeing back to countries where drug cartels are literally at war with governments and where there is no opportunity for education or success.Some may argue that this is helpful to the nation’s immigration problems but if we continue watching the same newscast we see stories of drug trafficking, murders, and violence. It seems quite logical that those who flee are the shop owners, the laborers, and so many others who simply want the opportunity to earn an honest wage and improve their life while the cartels, gangs, and violence continues to spill over the borders. Unfortunately it is not the criminals who are being run out, it is the honest people who truly believe in the American Dream.Critics of immigration reform may argue that the United States simply needs to enforce laws and enact deportation of those commonly referred to as illegal immigrants, but there may be a serious stereotype based bias in this thinking that will unfairly target Latinos. An extensive research study conducted at the University of Missouri determined that stereotypes play a very significant role in the determining ideas regarding immigration in the minds of most people in the United States (Lu.
2010. P1326. . For example, when presented with a question regarding immigration policy in relation to an immigrant from Pakistan, one may have a shop owner spring to mind and the opinion on immigration may be sharply contrasted when the question is posed against a Colombian and a cocaine trafficker springs to mind. The study supports arguments that many of the laws today may have been enacted at times when racial stereotypes, knowingly or not, were very present and, in fact, were at the root of the legislation.Few in this country would argue that immigration is not an issue that needs to be addressed. We see story after story on immigration and the rights and responsibilities of immigrants. We know that there are changes coming as we can see them, we anticipate more, and, regardless of whether they serve as a benefit or detriment to our society, we understand they are necessary.
The people of the United States understand that things cannot continue unabated and that the federal government simply must step in at some point, but many of us do so little.A simple letter to a congressman, an email to a representative, a petition signed by a community, or even something as simple as open and honest communication with one’s peers may be the very thing that sparks a movement and brings about lasting change. The United States government needs to enact comprehensive immigration reform and needs to do so soon or we will loose some of the very foundation that makes our country function.