President Obama has done well to speak out his mind on an important issue that has been hanging fire for many years now. It is giving status to more than 11 million undocumented immigrants. It is a question of accepting a work force that has contributed to the growth of America. It is a question of giving due dignity to people who have sweated it out to support their families back home and have given ungrudgingly to America their unflinching loyalty.
I appreciate the Mayor of Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa who has recently stated that comprehensive Immigration reform is not amnesty. Villaraigosa announced a six-point plan, which includes a path to citizenship, family reunification, and smarter border enforcement. The California Democrat recently spoke with U.S. News about the urgency of immigration reform and the details of his proposal.
To a question as to why comprehensive immigration reform is imperative now, the Mayor stated, ” We have had a broken immigration system for more than two decades. We have 11 million people who are here who are undocumented, who have 5 million citizen-children, and almost 2 million “Dreamers” [undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children] who know no other country but this one.”
I am tempted to quote here a few excerpts from the Mayor’s statement. “A temporary status, second-class citizenship, cannot and will not be a comprehensive immigration policy. It’s not amnesty, it’s earned. You have to prove you’ve been here for a period of time. You have to pay your back taxes. You have to get at the end of the line. You have to learn English and have some knowledge of the country if you want to be a citizen. What’s the alternative? The [mass] deportation of 11 million people? No country in the world has ever deported 11 million people, and this great country certainly won’t be the first.”
Speaking about the economic incentives for the immigration reform, Villaraigosa said, “There’s a $1.5 trillion economic impact, according to the Center for American Progress. The Dreamers alone, it’s estimated, will have a $329 billion impact over a 10-year period. And the reason is this: You’re bringing these people from out of the dark and into the light. What happens when you do that? You encourage them to get an education, you encourage them to improve their job skills. They’re encouraged to seek better jobs. They contribute more to our Social Security system.
President Obama has said that we should attach a green card to the diploma of people who come here getting bachelor’s degrees, particularly in science and math. [Also, H-1B] visas need to be expanded, and we need to make sure that we have a program that makes sense in the agricultural sector.”
I hope, Mayor Villaraigosa will soon take up the issue with lawmakers in Washington and see the fruition of his labor.