Today is Christmas Eve, I wanted to wish all the best for those who celebrate. I wanted to reference an excellent article by Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, a non-partisan, non-profit advocacy organization in Washington. His comments were featured today at the La Prensa San Diego Website.
Last week, Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff claimed credit for “reversing” illegal immigration, but the credit should more accurately fall to those in the Bush Administration who let the economy and our financial regulatory agencies collapse during the President’s tenure. As we have often said, the best way to slow immigration to the United States is to dry up all the pesky economic opportunity that has run rampant in this country for so long. The Bush Administration is well on its way to making sure there is no excess opportunity or economic security milling about. But we’re sure that President Bush, had he watched Secretary Chertoff’s press conference, would shout a hardy “Heck of a job, Cherty!”
True, massive investments in border barriers, increases in detention bed space, and a huge expansion in Homeland Security personnel have put more enforcement resources on display. However, to say that these resources have contributed significantly to a decrease in legal or illegal immigration – a phenomenon we have observed since the economy began slowing in 2001 – is like saying there is less rain because people buy umbrellas. Despite conspicuous and record-setting immigration raids, new strategies to streamline the deportation of immigrant workers with minimal judicial oversight, and continued bureaucratic barriers to legal immigration, the Chertoff claim to making significant progress in controlling legal or illegal immigration stretches the definition of causality.
Regardless of the Secretary’s claims and the hard work of our nation’s dedicated Homeland Security workforce, the Department has seen more than its share of controversy. In the past year, we have seen front page exposés on the Department’s failure to provide basic medical care to immigrants in detention, an unacceptable rate of immigrants dying in DHS custody, and, as reported in the Washington Post last week, a failure to process and swear-in new citizens hoping to vote in November’s election. These seem to be basic functions we would expect our government to execute.
But 2008 also saw an election where immigrant and Latino voters turned out to vote for change in record numbers. The tired politics of immigrant bashing once again failed to deliver for firebrand politicians. The New Year and the new Congress and Administration hold great promise for progress on immigration reform. Now it is up to people of conscience to hold our elected representatives accountable and demand immigration reform that benefits the American people, America’s economic and homeland security, and moves us towards a new era of recognizing that immigration is not a source of weakness for America, it is a sign of our strength