Letter to the Editor
Appeared in Huntsville Times, Anniston Star, Montgomery Advertiser, Madison County Record
Justice Not Deals
President Obama is expected to give attention to immigration reform immediately after his State of the Union address next week. The question? What is immigration reform? The answer? Anything anybody says it is. The lesson? If we are not careful, those of us who want change that comprehensively benefits migrants and laborers may get what we ask for.
Alabama’s draconian HB 56 was touted as immigration reform. So was the “moderate” 2007 McCain Kennedy Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act. McCain Kennedy, like all proposals which have come before Congress in recent years, contained provisions for extensions on militarizing the border and extensions of the H2 guest worker visa–two items inherently hostile to migrants and laborers. These proposals are quid pro quo deals.
So what should comprehensive migrant reform look like? At a minimum it should include 12 things: creating an inexpensive, quickly obtained visa for poor Latinos, Asians, and Africans, creating a lawful status for those already in the US which includes but is not limited to citizenship, restoring due process in legal proceedings, halting deportations, lifting the bars on re-entry for deportees, assisting the return of spouses and children living in exile with their deported loved ones, abolishing the guest worker visa, strengthening the rights of workers to bargain collectively, stopping and rolling back on free trade agreements (FTAs), providing redress for indigenous peoples pushed from their lands by FTAs, demilitarizing the border, and lifting bars on eligibility for Medicaid and SCHIP assistance.
In other words, we don’t want deals. We want justice.
Ellin S. Jimmerson