Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

An Open Letter on Behalf of Undocumented Immigrants

Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

An Open Letter on Behalf of Undocumented Immigrants

Article excerpt

While returning from a recent trip to Ellis Island, I had an opportunity to reflect on the 12 million immigrants that shaped and continue to define this great nation we call America. Yet, despite the notion of being a nation built by immigrants, America has always had a love-hate relationship with a nation that was built by immigrants. The 21st century love-hate version of this relationship is no different and has become a divisive political issue. I am always disappointed when critics question why comprehensive immigration reform matters. Seldom, do I argue with such critics, but given the interrelatedness of immigration and our nation, I do feel compelled to discuss the sad history of the treatment of immigrants.

The national dilemma of how to secure our borders has been one of our fundamental policy challenges for the last 20 years, not only for our national security interest and the war on terror but to also reduce the inflow of immigrants whom we often deem "illegals" or "undocumented." The conclusion of the 44th and the commencement of the 45th presidency have again left a nation of immigrants scrambling to come to terms with comprehensive immigration reform and its ramifications. The American values and rich tradition in welcoming immigrants has been tested as our democracy now seeks to come to common ground on this ever important but controversial public policy. Yet this debate threatens to take away the best of who we are and fuel the ambivalence of what we can become as a society.

Comprehensive immigration reform has social, cultural and economic implications for Americas future that most of us cannot foresee. The status of some 12 million undocumented immigrants who have already shaped and defined a new American landscape remains in limbo as our politicians try to reach a compromise on how we address immigration reform. The question remains: how do we address this issue without incurring the backlash from human rights activists, American citizens and politicians. Also, can Congress pass legislation that is both constitutional and humane? There hasn't been a time our country's great history that a debate on immigration divided the nation as it has recently, leaving us searching for an American identity as to who we are and what we stand for as a nation of immigrants. This debate has left the United States of America divided along racial, ethnic, political lines never seen before and has touched the conscience of the nation. The debate has become such a divisive issue that policy-making has been defined by politics in the 2008, 2012 and 2016 presidential elections.

As history reminds us, undocumented immigrants have become the most convenient scapegoat for America's social problems, thus anti-immigrant rhetoric has become prevalent and the norm throughout our political spectrum. Center to the immigration debate is amnesty as a pathway to citizenship for the 12 million human beings who are often referred to as "illegals" or "undocumented immigrants." Yet despite this abrasive terminology, no human being is illegal. The issue of comprehensive immigration reform is aimed at all immigrants and Americans alike but focuses specifically on Americas flourishing Hispanic population and their socio-economic-political importance. The "Browning of America" and the continuing reshaping of America by Hispanics continue to define who we are and illustrate the best of what we can become as a nation of immigrants.

The comprehensive immigration reform debate goes far beyond the typical immigration debates on the loss of jobs, drain on our social system, criminality etc.; it now includes the debate "Building a Wall." The economic, political and social clout of current immigrants is far more beneficial to the nation than our media, immigration critics and politicians point them out to be. Whatever the debates are, our American values, tradition of welcoming immigrants and our Americanism will be tested on how we approach and legislate new comprehensive immigration reform laws. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.