By Wiha Powell
Finally, there is hope for the 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants living in fear of deportation, to receive a pathway to citizenship
through a proposed bipartisan immigration reform. However, the debate surrounding immigration reform is slowly shifting to a political sparring match rather focusing on its intended purpose – the people.
The current immigration problem is our fault. By not properly securing our borders and corporations hiring illegal immigrant workers, immigration has become a more complex issue. The President and the Senate group of eight proposed a partial solution to the problem. This proposal advocates for the improvement of the immigration court system, shorter visa processing times, and increased border security among other proposed solutions.
It is no secret that mainstream America and most members of Congress support a pathway to citizenship for these 11.1 million undocumented immigrants. And although the path will be tough, it is considered to be somewhat fair – completing a background check, learning English, having a legal working status prior to getting a green card, and going to the back of the line for green card/citizenship processing.
However, what is not fair about the President and the Senate eight’s proposal is the fact that these 11.1 million undocumented immigrants have to pay fines and back taxes. This portion of the proposal could not possibly be about legalizing undocumented immigrants. Most of these undocumented immigrants work for less than nothing. Therefore, asking that fines and back taxes be paid is a prime example of the system taking advantage through measures that should be beneficial, but will not. It can be predicted that the proposal that is currently on the table is going to have major bureaucratic red tape stamped all over it. This is the time for the American people to pay close attention.
This is not to say that we should not push for immigration reform; we urgently need it.
The immigration court system is in dire need of reform. 2012 saw a record number of deportations. According to Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE), 409,849 individuals were deported over the last year. Moreover, during the first four years of the Obama Administration,1.5 million people were deported, more than the total number during eight years of the Bush Administration.
It is also greatly recommended that the extensive backlogs and extensive time frame for visa processing are reduced. It is only fair that during this discussion about immigration reform a focus should be on reducing the huge visa backlog. Furthermore, there should be a reasonable time frame for the 11.1 million undocumented immigrants who are sent to the back of the line. Waiting another eight or more years to receive legal status, after being in the US for more than 10 years is beyond unreasonable.
With immigration reform in our reach, the agenda should focus on helping people and their families who are victims of a broken immigration system. This issue has taken a toll on the lives of many and has torn families apart. Therefore, let’s get the ball rolling on comprehensive and reasonable immigration reform, rather than focusing on political gains.