Leading the Way to Immigration Reform

I’ve written at length on this blog about the severity of the need for immigration reform in this country, and I’ve written about the upcoming presidential hopefuls and what they intend on doing for, or against, immigration reform if elected. But what about our current leader? After almost eight years in the White House, what has Barack Obama managed to accomplish in way of immigration? Recently, he has attempted something some politicians are suggesting is rather drastic.

Through controversial executive action, Obama has recently issued statements to Congress and Senate, proposing some very key changes towards reform. On the official website of the White House, the executive actions are listed as: “cracking down on illegal immigration on the border”, “deporting felons, not families”, and “accountability – criminal background checks and taxes”. All of these appear to be reasonable requests, and reflect desires regarding immigration from both parties. The President is also stated to be working towards paving the way for legal immigration and for unauthorized citizens to “earn citizenship”, as well as becoming more harsh on employers hiring undocumented workers.

Obama also recently underwent proceedings, and is continuing to do so, at the Supreme Court and lower courts before it in order to address the issue of the influx of immigrant children coming here without their parents. These proceedings mostly focused on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program as well as a sister program that included their parents. These programs would effectively allow immigrant children and their parents to stay in the United States without prosecution.

Though some of the formerly mentioned legislation seems drastic and controversial, something need to be done about the ever growing number of undocumented citizens residing in this country. Will we take the humane route and blaze the trail towards immigration reform in favor of immigrant rights, or will we accept the frightening alternative of deporting hundreds of thousands of families living and working here? Though the answer to this complex question may not surface for some time, reform is necessary, and there’s no denying that.

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Sources:
– https://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/immigration
– http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/11/10/obama-appeals-to-supreme-court-to-keep-five-million-illegal-immigrants-from-being-deported/
– http://www.nationaljournal.com/white-house/2014/11/23/Obamas-Immigration-Order-Is-Done-Now-He-Has-Make-Work

Our Story: A Story of America

“We are a nation of immigrants. I am the son of an immigrant myself. Their story, my story, our story is a story of America: hard working families coming the the United States to create a brighter future for their children. The story of immigrants is the story of America, a story rooted in family and fueled by hope. It continues today in families all across the United States” – Senator Bernie Sanders

The above quote was spoken by Senator Bernie Sanders, a current presidential hopeful running in this coming 2016 presidential election. Sanders is viewed as being the second most popular and “likely” candidate to take the nomination for the Democratic ticket behind Clinton.

Sanders, having a long history in politics, has a solid and, naturally, incredibly liberal stance on immigration reform. According to his official website, Sanders has personally worked with migrant workers and has a long record of reaching out to those he seeks to serve to better understand their conditions and their plight. He has positioned himself as a candidate who truly cares about this nation and the people in it, and certainly as a champion for immigration reform and security for unauthorized citizens.

On his webpage is listed the Senator’s views on immigration and immigration reform. Sanders has made it clear that he thinks unauthorized citizens need to be addressed and be able to be open about their position. He is against the construction of a “border fence”, and notes that those who immigrate do so to escape perilous conditions. Should our country turn these refugees away after positioning ourselves as a nation of opportunity and freedom for all? Sign into law the DREAM act, and extend President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to include parents of those this program helps – will we also be responsible for tearing a part families? Sanders wants to better legal aid offered to immigrants, as well as increase wages for migrant workers and revise current trade policies.

These all appear to be hefty goals to fulfill, and it is unfortunately not uncommon for elected candidates to fall short of the policies and laws they promised to enact during their campaigns. If Sanders were to be our next president, though, how drastically would circumstances change for immigrants in our country? Would these different policy revisions help or hurt the plight of the unauthorized citizen? Would Sanders even be able to be successful in this dramatic reform he supports, or would he lack support from Congress and the House of Representatives?

What would our country look like if it included all of the people who worked, loved, and lived here?

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Sources:

Trumping Stereotypes

As mentioned in former posts, the impending 2016 Presidential election is looming in the distant horizon of our country’s future. Naturally, immigration reform is anticipated to be a “big ticket” item, or one of the primary issues necessary for our future leader to discuss and settle their opinions and policies about. And, as anyone who has even minimal contact with a television or computer would know, Donald Trump is seemingly a fore runner for the GOP candidacy.
His speeches, involvement in debates, and even his attitude towards the process of campaigning have all been surrounded in controversy. He has set himself a part as a man of many words with little to no filter to speak of, and, naturally, he has had a lot to say regarding immigrants and immigration reform.
According to his official website, his views and plans on immigration reform include making “Mexico pay for the wall”, he is a firm believer in securing the border, “tripling the number of ICE officers”, he wants to invest more into border patrol, “defund sanctuary cities”, “detention, not catch-and-release”, and even “end birthright citizenship”, among many other things. Aside from the obvious questions, such as how would our country pay for all of this, both financially and in human toll, how could we elect a president that would alienate and effectively work to disenfranchise the largest growing demographic of people in our nation?
MSNBC says “The leading GOP candidate is talking about ferreting out, arresting, and forcibly removing a population of men, women, and children roughly the size of the state of Ohio.” What would be the consequences of doing something like this? Are we now walking down a path that leads to America becoming a vicious police state? Not to mention the possibility of a sort of societal genocide, the policies supported by Trump are blatantly and unashamedly racist, and would cause our country insurmountable strife.
It is so important for every citizen to understand the implications and consequences of policies like this, regardless of political beliefs and affiliation. Immigration reform is necessary, but to what extent are some willing to go, and is it really going to benefit the United States?

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Sources:

– https://www.donaldjtrump.com/positions/immigration-reform
– http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/donald-trump-shocking-reality-deportation-plan

Protests as a Form of Dissent

Long have protests been a major aspect of American dissent. One need not look long to find examples of American citizens protesting against wars, for basic civil liberties, and against malicious legislation. It has become a part of our culture and image as Americans, our right to peaceful protest is well ingrained into our psyches. So, it comes as no surprise that protest has become a major part of the movement for immigration reform.

Protest is a means of offering a voice to the common citizen, and it brings attention to important issues. Below are some photos showcasing various immigration reform protests. The plight of the undocumented citizen must be heard.

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On Immigration Reform

As well all know, the battle for the presidency has already begun in the United States. There are many different issue being discussed right now, but what are the candidates saying in regards to immigration reform?
Two of the front runners for the president in either party, Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, have not been quiet about their opinions. Though Jeb Bush is a Republican, a party typically viewed to be anti-immigration, he has stated that he is for immigrants being able to “earn” citizenship. Clinton, on the other hand, has recently come out as extremely pro-immigration reform. This has caused some controversy, however, since Clinton reportedly voted for an amendment in 2007 that effectively ended legislature for immigration reform.

Both politicians are thought to be more moderate on immigration reform until recently, though whatever the case, it is clear that immigration reform is going to be a major topic this coming presidential election. This is why it is imperative for young people and young voters to be knowledgeable about what each candidate wants for immigration reform if we want to see any change or development on this in our lifetimes. It is a burgeoning issue, and must be addressed.

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Sources:

http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/09/politics/hillary-clinton-jeb-bush-immigration-flip-flop/
http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/hillary-clinton-goes-all-immigration-reform
http://www.ontheissues.org/2016/Jeb_Bush_Immigration.htm

– Rachel Nipper

“Go Back Home!”

Imagine fleeing your home, frightened for your life. Maybe you are with your family, lucky to have been able to escape together, or perhaps fate hasn’t exactly been in your favor. Eventually, somehow, you make it to the border of the United States, a place where you hope you can find some kind of salvation from the violence tearing your country apart. You arrive, and are detained, but still brought into this place you gave up so much to get to and greeted with throngs of white faces chanting “Go back home!”.
How do you explain to these people that you can’t? That what they are yelling at you is impossible? That this “home” they speak of is ravaged by blood and fire and bullets? How do you make them understand that what they ask of you essentially could also mean your death?
For decades, the United States has been a golden land of opportunity and sanctuary. The “Land of the Free” where you can discover your destiny around any corner. The United States long has even embraced this notion. Some proudly proclaim we are a “land of immigrants”, regaling others with their tales of their great great great grandfather who sailed to the East Coast from some obscure village in Italy. We as a country once fashioned ourselves as a beacon of hope for those less fortunate, and continue to implement ourselves into the dealings and structures of other countries, spreading our doctrine of democracy.
So, why now are so many so vehemently against these people, these refugees, seeking our aid and coming to our country to escape the violence destroying theirs? Is our land of hope and prosperity no more?
Recently, on the California-Mexico border, there have been protests by members of a small town accepting detainees against migrants, primarily migrant children, coming into our country for processing. Typically, these migrants are released following this process and asked to return at a later date, however many never do and simply disappear into the masses of undocumented citizens living in the U.S. The protests were cited to have gotten so unpleasant that the detainees had to be taken some 40-60 miles away to be processed in a different city.
While it is certain that immigration reform is vital on the federal level, as our current government is woefully unequipped to handle the enormous amount of new immigrants coming here, we can’t just turn these individuals away, and we absolutely can’t turn children away. This has become a humanitarian crisis, and we need to rise to meet it.

San Francisco: A Sanctuary City

Quite literally, a “sanctuary” is described as a place of “refuge or safety”. In an unkind world, these places that can be deemed as sanctuaries serve as a beacon of hope for those less fortunate. In our country, “sanctuary cities” do the same for those seeking refuge in a land where the citizens, the leaders, and the media make it clear they are not welcome.

So, what exactly is a “sanctuary city”? In the United States, a sanctuary city is a city or community that has certain policies or laws, whether via legitimate laws or simply societal habits, in place allowing them to not prosecute an unauthorized citizen. Some of these cities in the United States are New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, and, our own city, San Francisco.

Sanctuary cities are an old notion, but today have stemmed in our modern society primarily in a response to the influx of Latino and Hispanic immigrants. Proponents of the concept claim that sanctuary cities offer immigrants a place to cooperate with police and law enforcement without fear of deportation or harassment, meaning safer streets and less violence from a marginalized community. While opponents claim that allowed unauthorized citizens to remain in our country causes a security issue; removing these people would be what would decrease violence in communities and make our country safer.

Recently in San Francisco, there was a fatal shooting. The culprit of such a horrific act was found to be Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an unauthorized immigrant. According to reports involving the incident, Lopez-Sanchez fired a weapon he had found, which then ricocheted and struck a young woman, Kathryn Steinle, and killed her. Lopez-Sanchez, despite the fact he had been arrested numerous times in the Bay Area, had also been released numerous times due to our city’s status as a sanctuary. Though this incredibly devastating incident appears to have been mostly an accident, it has become the kindling to a rapidly developing debate centering around “illegal immigration” in California.

What if San Francisco was not a sanctuary city? Would Lopez-Sanchez have not had the ability to inflict such harm in a community only trying to aid individuals in his position? Should all unauthorized citizens living in the Bay Area suffer for what is mostly the failings of a conflicted federal system?

  • Rachel Nipper

Sources and Media:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/calif-killing-inflames-debate-on-illegal-immigrants-sanctuary-cities/2015/07/06/8dc6eb50-241e-11e5-b72c-2b7d516e1e0e_story.html

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/san-francisco-pier-shooting-kathryn-steinle-juan-francisco-lopez-sanchez-fatal-shot-ricochet/

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/san-francisco-pier-shooting-kathryn-steinle-juan-francisco-lopez-sanchez-fatal-shot-ricochet/

https://www.aclu.org/blog/speak-freely/what-went-wrong-case-francisco-lopez-sanchez