National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America

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You Can Run but You Can’t Hide From the Immigration Issue

February 18, 2009 - Posted by Katherine Vargas

Despite all the political talk that has been focused on the stimulus, a steady movement has been growing under the radar of most pundits, quietly turning the tide in the immigration debate.  Change is coming and those in leadership in Washington who ran away from common sense solutions to our immigration troubles are about to find out that they will need to face the problem head on.


 


Leading the effort in this change is President Obama, who in less than a week visited two popular Latino radio stations to talk about his agenda and his commitment to the Hispanic and immigrant community.


 


On the first radio interview with popular Chicago Deejay “El Pistolero,” the President reiterated his support for a comprehensive overhaul of our immigration system:


 


“What…[c]ontinues to be a priority for the country is comprehensive immigration reform that provides not only better security on the borders and more effective sanctions on employers but also provides a path to citizenship for those who have been living here and are committed to becoming US citizens…Let’s evaluate the laws that are working and the laws that are not working.  Let’s take into account some of the strains that are being placed on families…”  (Interview of the President by “El Pistolero”, Radio, February 12, 2009)


 


Yesterday, by phone with Los Angeles-based and nationally syndicated Eddie “Piolín” Sotelo, the President stressed that time is of the essence for immigration reform:


 


“…we've got to have comprehensive immigration reform…[We] need to get started working on it now.  It's going to take some time to move that forward, but I'm very committed to making it happen.  And we’re going to be convening leadership on this issue so that we can start getting that legislation drawn up over the next several months. (Interview of the President by Eddie "Piolín" Sotelo, Radio, February 17, 2009)


 


As mentioned in yesterday’s blog, a new approach to immigration is coming to Washington.  Further evidence of this appears in the latest remarks by White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel- as reported by Spanish language newswire EFE, referring to the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), recently signed by the President.


 


“The expansion of SCHIP to immigrants' children represents "an advance" on what the Obama administration plans to do on behalf of immigrants during the next four years.


 


“…the inclusion of benefits for immigrants’ kids in the face of opposition from some Republicans indicates that in the debate over immigration, “the arrow has begun to point in a different direction.”  (Obama Brings 'Change of Course' on Immigration, Top Aide Says, February 6, 2009)


 


If Members of Congress think they can hide from the immigration issue, here are a few news articles that should be greeting them at home during this congressional recess.  Diverse faith groups, more and more, are joining together through prayers and vigils across more than 100 cities nationwide. They are calling on the new Congress and the new Administration to  — as described by Jeremy Shaver from the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado — “demonstrate the courage to pass immigration policies that uphold and protect the dignity and human rights of all”.  


 


§         North Carolina: Raleigh joins national vigil for immigration reform, (News & Observer, February 16, 2009)


§         Texas: From Dallas church, people pray for 'humane and just' immigration reform (Dallas Morning News, February 16, 2009)


§         New York: Interfaith church vigil calls for immigration reform (Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, February 17, 2009)


§         Colorado: Faith calls together crowd for immigration vigil (Aurora Sentinel, February 16, 2009)


§         Nebraska: Bishops take on immigrant policies (Omaha World, February 16, 2009)


§         Idaho: Vigil will focus on immigration (Idaho Press Tribune, February 16, 2009)


 


Members of Congress can run from DC all the way to their home districts and back, but they cannot hide from the needs of the country.  Their obligation is to find a common sense solution to overhaul our obsolete immigration system.

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