Blog & Updates
Editorial Roundup: Immigration Reform: Turning Words into Concrete Actions
August 24, 2009 - Posted by Katherine Vargas
Last Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano met with 130 advocates and leaders from faith, business, law enforcement, labor and pro-immigrant advocacy groups to discuss moving forward on immigration reform. Advocates have been pressuring the Administration to be more assertive in its support of reform as communities are impacted by the stepped-up enforcement of a dysfunctional immigration system. Many editorial boards welcomed this initial dialogue between the Administration and advocates who are at the frontlines of the national immigration debate, but are reserving judgment to see whether concrete actions follow the words. Here are some examples:
LOS ANGELES TIMES: White House moves to placate immigration reform advocates
Immigrant rights activists said Friday that a White House meeting this week to reaffirm support for immigration reform -- featuring a surprise appearance by President Obama -- had helped mollify growing frustration over what some perceived as backpedaling on reform promises.
But many said that action will be needed to keep the faith among immigrants and their supporters, particularly Latinos who turned out in record numbers to help elect Obama last year.
"We've heard all of the beautiful oratory about immigration reform, but we have yet to see concrete actions to stop the suffering," said Angelica Salas, director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.
—August 22, 2009
ARIZONA REPUBLIC: Quit squabbling, achieve reform
But there is widespread agreement that the status quo [of our immigration system] serves no one. There is also agreement that the current undocumented population needs a chance to gain legal status.
Napolitano has been criticized for her hard line, but she is demonstrating that this administration is serious about law and order. That's essential to reform.(…) For decades, much of this nation's immigration has been illegal, and that has to stop. But illegal immigration does not occur because of some pernicious deficit in the character of the migrants. The patterns of illegal immigration and the deaths along our southern border are a result of U.S. immigration policies.
Congress and the president control the solution.
— August 24, 2009
LA OPINION: Damage control
In short, there was much talk and even a surprise visit by Obama —proof that the immigration issue is on the president’s agenda— all of which was sufficient to defuse, at least publicly, many of the concerns.
Meanwhile, things on the street remain the same. Excessive force by local police under the 287 (g) program and a lack of adequate federal oversight continue. So too, do the arrests of hard-working people with the excuse of searching for dangerous criminals, the ongoing use of E-Verify, which confuses people's identities, and the situation of millions living in the shadow of deportation.
As we commented a few days ago about Immigration Customs [and] Enforcement, these feel like empty words especially when they fail to redress but only reinforce the most punitive aspects of the immigration issue.
—August 24, 2009
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: A path to citizenship
Immigration reform is something worth fighting for. It's been supported by Republicans and Democrats. It has links to other important issues, including education, employment, and, yes, health care.
Because midterm elections occur next year, Congress may want to delay immigration reform even further. Obama should not let that happen. National security depends not only on making it harder to breach our borders; it also requires a rational program that allows entry to those we want to enter and sets up a better process to help those we want to stay.
—August 23, 2009
DENVER DAILY NEWS: Obama makes gains with immigrant rights groups
The Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition called Obama’s appearance a “welcome surprise.” The group agreed that the Obama administration is committed to comprehensive immigration reform.
But the group is holding their applause until they see actual action.
“While the president continues with his commitment to immigration reform, we’re looking for public advocacy from Secretary Napolitano and a concrete proposal from Congress,” said Julien Ross, director of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition. “In the meantime, we’re asking for more accountability on enforcement measures, especially in detention centers and 287(g) programs.”
“The President is clear that he wants immigration reform to move forward this year so that we can pass a bill early next year,” said Noorani [Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum]. “To do that, we need to see more motion from Congress and more push from Secretary Napolitano.”
—August 24, 2009
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano going nowhere on immigration reform
“What we are looking for going forward is public advocacy for comprehensive immigration reform from Secretary Napolitano, a concrete proposal presented in Congress early this fall, and continued promotion of this urgent issue by the President," [America’s Voice Frank] Sharry said.
Fine, but let's not be deceived: As long as the repression and abuse of immigrants go on unabated, promises and reassurances are just words.
—August 23, 2009
President Obama and Secretary Napolitano have voiced their commitment on immigration reform, but they still need to communicate the urgency of fixing our broken immigration system to the broad American public
In preparation for the meeting, the Reform Immigration FOR America campaign asked supporters to submit questions on immigration reform to Secretary Napolitano. 4,018 questions were submitted from people all around the country in less than 24 hours, many concerning the timing of immigration reform and the urgency for its enactment, while others questioned Secretary Napolitano’s emphasis on border security without concrete movement towards reform.
You can read the rest of the questions here: http://www.reformimmigrationforamerica.org/blog/today-secretary-napolitano-answers-your-questions/
We are counting on the leadership of President Obama and Secretary Napolitano to build support in Congress so that immigration reform becomes a legislative reality soon. The pain felt by immigrant communities across the country because of the failures of our immigration system is real and promises of reform without concrete action will not deliver a real solution to our immigration mess.