The mentioned bill has been introduced several times before, but it has failed short of support for as long as Republicans had control of Congress. Now with Democrats in the White House and full control of Congress, things might be different.
The bill could become a reality in 2010, and it will replace the current immigration legislation which is obviously failed, outdated, abusive and bureaucratic. Although it will face a tough debate in Congress as mid-term elections are approaching.
Some labor rights groups might oppose this bill as the economic recession and unemployment rates are still punishing most working-class US citizens. Supporters said this bill will help the economy and it will create new jobs.
Conservative and anti-immigrant groups will also oppose the bill. Many of these organizations based their platform on racist, xenophobic views. There will be abundant negative campaigns against the legalization of over 12 million people. Lies, fear and defamation in the right-wing media.
But this time around, immigrants rights advocates and activists seem to be better prepared. Several organizations including the National Council of La Raza are already preparing action calls, trainings and informative sessions to get ready for the 2010 debate.
Others are skeptical, as this reform has been promised many times before. For some it seems harder to believe that this time Congress is truly committed to move this bill forward.
Last October 13, this year I asked Rep. Luis Gutierrez if we should trust his leadership. This is his brief but convincing response:
There are other reasons besides Gutierrez promise to believe that this bill can be successful. Today’s bill on undocumented immigration is focused on a complete overhaul of the immigration legal system including border security, family unity and workers rights protection, according to Chicago Public Radio:
The last president to change the immigration legislation in the United States was the controversial Ronald Reagan, who allowed hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants to get a path for citizenship. That was not a legislation reform, but an exception for those who were here illegally, and it became an open invitation for many more to come to the U.S. with the hope that one day, they will also get an amnesty.
Gutiérrez’s bill is also expected to address border security, family reunification, and worker protection.
In the Senate, Charles Schumer (D-New York) is crafting what’s expected to be a bipartisan immigration bill. Many Republicans and some Democrats want tougher immigration enforcement.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano last week said the Obama administration would be ready to move on immigration early next year.
The Bush administration promised several times to pass an Immigration Reform, he lied at no surprise. President Obama also promised he would start the process in first year in the White House. He run out of time, it seems.
However, here comes Rep. Luis Gutierrez who is sure to have the sponsorship of many colleagues in Congress. They should name the bill after Senator Ted Kennedy, who passed away this year, and who was one of the strongest advocates for this long-awaited reform.
Immigration Reform should be part of the efforts of the United States government and people, in order to assure a better future for all its residents, a future of justice and equality.
This bill will mean for millions of second class citizens the end of suffering and sacrifice. Most of undocumented immigrants are victims of the horrendous disparity among rich and poor, in many nations of the world. Also they have faced the kind of violence that keeps pushing people away from their homelands.
Some might say this is not the U.S. problem, but in reality it is and more than one can imagine. However this is not the time for that discussion. It’s time to work together to have this bill becoming a reality, and not just another political campaign for the benefit of some. It's a matter of justice, human rights, life.
Immigration Rally in Washington, DC, October 13, 2009
Photos and video by Carlos A. Quiroz