Kristine Kaiser: Immigration reform is a federal role; now act

Feb. 02, 2013 @ 01:27 AM

The GOP is making a positive sound with its support for comprehensive immigration reform. There is no more talk about self-deportation or sending 11 million people back to their birth countries. It seems like some elected officials are finally affirming the value of noncitizens to our nation; immigrants infuse vitality into the land. Such change.
Such hope.
Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is among the reformers. He moves from being an ethnic token to being someone who might have credibility in the GOP’s talk about inclusiveness. For too long, the GOP has had the ethnicity without the commitment to ethnic goals. Sen. Rubio becomes authentic with his leading role in immigration reform. He is no longer a pretty ethnic face in an empty suit. He now leads his party in some of the most important legislation of our times. He leads his party on an issue of fairness.
The immigration laws that have come from the states have been overly harsh, often treating noncitizens like criminals. States have been unable to come up with helpful plans. Yet, Arizona’s controversial immigration law might have been responsible for the state nearly turning blue in the 2012 presidential election and is a likely reason for Sen. John McCain’s change of heart when it comes to immigrants. State laws have made the call for federal immigration reforms a loud one. States have simply failed.
At a time when there is an increasing rivalry between the state and federal powers, new national immigration laws would serve to strengthen the federal government. The federal government would have more backbone. The federal government needs renewed determination because of an onslaught of state challenges to its authority. The federal government is no longer forfeiting its rightful role; immigration reform is a federal responsibility, an area that has been overlooked for too long. At last, we move.
Comprehensive immigration reform must include a real path for people to become citizens. Such reform should include “a Dream Act” for young people who came to the country through no fault of their own. These young people could go to college, enlist in a military branch, or become involved in community service as routes to citizenship. Immigrants, especially in their youth, have much to offer the country in talent. All immigrants invigorate the nation; they add to our potential, they expand our resources.
Comprehensive immigration reform’s time has come. The economy is healthier, and true immigration reform can only aid economic goals. How much money has been spent deporting noncitizens? It costs $12,500 to deport a person. There have been record deportations under the Obama administration, as many as 1.5 million people. The tab is an awful drain, and the allocated money could be saved or put to a better use.
Economic benefit is not the sole reason for changes. Mass deportations break up families. We have always honored the family as a primary social institution. We will always want to keep families together, citizen or immigrant. Let’s protect families.
Finally, let’s praise the president and Congress for working together on this vital legislation. The bipartisan effort for comprehensive immigration reform moves the country forward in important ways and shows that our government might not be badly broken. Let us move quickly to put a bill on the president’s desk. Let’s make it happen.

Kristine Kaiser is a writer living in Kernersville. Contact her for comments at: Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.