After many years of waiting for an Immigration Reform in the US, the time has finally come.
It is a great opportunity for all our communities. Many different groups nationwide have been working tirelessly, many times after great disappointments, with the strength to keep pushing.
There are national players that have participated in the national debate and have pushed the legislation from the top. We can see the names of important politicians and policy makers in the news working the issues from many different angles.
There have also been thousands of grassroots organizations that have been a part of the struggle for many years. This has been a struggle that has involved everyone in our communities; our neighbors, our friend and our brothers. Even after an Immigration Reform is reached, many of these organizations will not receive crédito, just the satisfaction in knowing that a fair fight is always worth fighting.
With the Reform, the US has an opportunity to track millions of families towards a life of inclusion, forming part of the decision-making processes in their communities. Immigrant families are ready to contribute to hasten the economic recovery in the US and have proven over the years to be hard workers, and contributing members of our communities.
The prospect of a Comprehensive Immigration Reform has realtors and car dealers reaching out to their soon-to-be documented clients. The construction industry wants to build more houses for all the families that will start a new chapter of their lives without persecution and anguish. Colleges and universities want all the youth that will begin thinking about their future education.
Every family that has their immigration situation resolved favorably will continue to invest in the future and the growth of this country. We must not let the negative debate cloud the opportunity that lies ahead for the country as a whole.
As we review the SB744 Immigration Bill there are important points to be made on specific issues that will help create a Comprehensive Immigration Reform that is inclusive, fair and positive for our communities.
1. The opportunity rises again for some after 20 of years waiting for Immigration Reform. The inaction on the federal government to produce a Comprehensive Immigration Reform for so many years has created problems for many segments in our society.
It was the federal issue that was put on the back burner so many times, it created problems for all involved; workers, business owners, schools, health care systems, etc.
During that process immigrant communities have faced the worst problems. On top of economic disadvantages and racial profiling, the legal system found the only option of “criminalizing” them. While the debate continues in Washington, up until this week we are still receiving cases of detentions that continue to present the same pattern:
A working mother of 3 American children has her criminal record stained for life for working and providing for her family. “Nicole” was an undocumented immigrant who had a valid driver’s license in the State of Indiana, like many other immigrants who had driver’s licenses until they expired and were unable to renew them because of a change of legislation.
Her first arrest was driving with a suspended license. After her second arrest, she was charged with forgery, identity deception and fraud and subsequently denied bail.
This story only has two possible endings like so many stories of immigrants being victims of the system.
In the better situation her family will suffer economic and emotional stress from court costs, fines and lawyer costs. The costs of every one of these “traffic stops” for families is in the thousands of dollars. All that has weakened the economy of many families during years of economic depression.
Many other cases end with deportation, leaving so many families without breadwinners, children coming home from school to hear their mother/father is in jail and starting the long process of deportation, splitting families, bringing economic burdens and making life difficult for the family as a whole. The deportee with a forced deportation is in the permanent immigration record, facing separation for years, many time decades.
The question for SB744 is the following:
How is the bill going to allow opportunities for those who have suffered so much at the hands of an outdated immigration policy?
How many years will these families have to wait to reunite? Will there be a path to amend so many people who have gathered criminal records for driving to work witt out a license, or working with improper paperwork? What was the alternative for these families? Stay home and not work?
It is important to point out that many working families have been put into this system that recycles them from one detention to the next, fines, bonds, lawyers and courts. They have “paid” their way through this nightmare for years.
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