Two commentaries in a recent edition of The Daily Transcript extended an explanation of why immigration reform cannot be legislated. The respective opinions of each columnist looked beyond the common excuse of congressional gridlock.
Both writers agreed on one issue: the Republican Party is losing any hope of support from the growing Hispanic electorate. Why? The tea party continues to block compromise.
As one headline stated, the GOP is on course for an all-white future. This was confirmed by the results of the 2014 midterm election when Hispanic voters took a major swing to the Democratic Party. This is a trend that will be significant in the next presidential election.
Voter demographics reveal a trend contrary to Republican politics. An estimated 11 million undocumented residents in the United States are changing the potential ratio of primarily white voters from 82 percent in 2002 to 70 percent now.
There’s no doubt that the new Congress controlled by Republicans will clash with President Obama’s executive order to ease the threat of deportation to millions of undocumented immigrants under certain conditions. It is the hot button political issue for 2015 that will become a major battle in the new Congress.
The president’s televised announcement of his executive order explaining how his temporary immigration reform will work until Congress passes an act seemed reasonable enough. After all, there are 11 million undocumented immigrants presently in the United States, some of whom have children born here. How can we deal with these disenfranchised residents in a practical manner under present law?
No matter what the president installs as a mechanism, the Republican Congress will oppose it. They still deliberate in an untimely manner on how to fix the immigration laws that have been hopelessly out of date for decades.
Congress must develop a bipartisan plan and legislate a practical and enforceable immigration procedure that obviously will have to grant amnesty to a number of foreign workers who have been here for years, if not decades, without legal status.
I listened to a recent PBS interview with two authors who strongly support significant immigration reform. The subject addressed how new migrants often fail to adjust to American customs and lifestyle. There is an apparent difference depending on the source of the country. Too many foreigners come to America and bring their traditions that often conflict with established U.S. habits and values.
This is not unusual after the past two centuries of European immigrants settling in urban areas with their own kind and keeping their traditions. Usually the first generation continues to speak their native language but at least encourages their children and grandchildren to become American and speak English.
My Irish ancestors came to America to become Americans and make a new life of prosperity denied them in the old country. Their advantage was already speaking English, but their accent identified them as “foreigners.” They worked very hard to eliminate the stigma of poor Irish that denied them the opportunity to share many social upgrades in the 19th century.
One of the authors interviewed on PBS recited how her tradition-bound Indian parents tried to force their daughter into an arranged marriage with a stranger from their native country. Having grown up a U.S. citizen in a typical American urban center, she refused. She claimed that it was her right to live in a democratic, free-choice society. She was shunned by her entire family here and abroad for violating tradition.
Yes, we need foreign workers with advanced skills and to fill all those minimum-wage jobs that even poor Americans are not willing to do if welfare covers them. Would your son lean over all day picking strawberries? Would your daughter make beds at a hotel?
We need the unskilled workforce provided by foreign laborers who find a better life here. That’s the problem: We need them and they need the work, but the obsolete immigration laws cannot accommodate the supply and demand. Nor can Congress get past the bigotry of dealing with people who are “not like us.”
To be sure, there are other economic and social services problems in sheltering undocumented immigrants. Conflicts pop up in providing education for their children, medical services in the emergency room and issuing driver’s licenses.
Those issues are only the tip of the iceberg of the new legislation needed to provide some kind of status for the phantom population now living and working in the United States.