Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Guest Blog Post: Ediberto Roman, Tired of Waiting: Comprehensive Immigration Reform a Priority

Here is Ediberto Roman's inaugural guest post for February: 

Tired of Waiting: Comprehensive Immigration Reform a Priority

After four years (it certainly felt longer), President Biden has turned a new page on immigration debates. His campaign platform includes a host of promises to not only turn back Trump's xenophobic policies, it suggests the need for comprehensive immigration reform. While I believe President Biden is a man of his word and he believes what he says and writes, I nonetheless have grown too familiar with similar promises from past presidents. Indeed, president after president seem to declare immigration as a priority, only to often put other issues ahead of it. Many can recall President Obama punting on immigration reform in favor of focusing on healthcare reform. Before Obama, some of us can also remember President George W. Bush not focusing on immigration reform and instead placing his administration’s early focus on social security reform. As for our new president, he has proposed a host of executive actions on immigration that while beneficial, are simply not enough.

Activists, practitioners, law professors, and leaders of businesses in the construction, agricultural, and services sectors  need to push for immigration reform now. As the Dallas Morning recently opined, the “stakes are simply far too high to kick comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) down the road again.” If President Biden is going to make a grand departure from Donald Trump, he not only needs to end Trump’s policies, such as horrific Family Separation Policy, which Biden recently announced (the policy purportedly ended years ago despite fact children are still being separated), President Biden must pass CIR.  President Biden evidently announced he is open to breaking up his immigration bill into pieces, such a compromise is simply unacceptable.  He needs to lead here and not “punt the issue to Congress as he has already suggested he would do.

Piecemeal efforts at reform will likely only lead to benefits to young immigrants—Dreamers. It is simply not enough to support the most palatable group of undocumented immigrants and forget the roughly nine million other undocumented workers in this country. I have worked with Dreamers extensively and know them to be an incredible group of Americans—indeed, I hope my own children resemble their drive, dedication, and love for this country. But it is simply not enough to renew DACA or provide a pathway to residency and perhaps citizenship to this uncontroversial subgroup. They are stars, but for the most part, so are the millions of undocumented adults that pick our fruits and our vegetables, and take care of and build our homes. Let’s be honest with ourselves, and recognize and address the economic benefit of undocumented immigrants as well as the demand our economy creates for them. Too many of us are simply free riders of their contributions. Let’s change our narrow, and often weak-willed resolve to remove millions of our fellow Americans from the shadows.


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