“We define ourselves as a nation of immigrants. That’s who we are — in our bones. The promise we see in those who come here from every corner of the globe, that’s always been one of our greatest strengths.” -President Barrack Obama
Notwithstanding the President’s emphasis that we are “a nation of immigrants”, immigration reform has hardly been a unifying issue. Arguments on immigration range from individuals speaking out against amnesty for law breakers, to others stressing the reunification of families. Some media coverage has focused on criminal activity around border communities and walls built to keep illegal immigrants out, while other outlets address racial profiling, undocumented children raised as though they were citizens, and the human element associated with immigration. Some states have tried implementing laws to deal with security issues, but have drawn criticism from groups like the ACLU, speaking out against racial profiling and unconstitutional provisions within the laws. Arizona, for instance, gained a lot of attention with SB 1070, an immigration law contested in the Supreme Court and often criticized for its “show me your papers” provision. The language employed during the immigration debate has also divided the country, as terms like “illegal aliens” and “anchor babies” have driven wedges deeper and deeper.
Attitudes Changing Towards Immigration
More recently, however, the tone toward immigration has changed. According to Senator Chuck Schumer (D-IL), “For the first time ever, there’s more political risk in opposing immigration reform, than in supporting it” (Video Link). The 2012 Presidential Election was an eye-opener for many Republicans who had distanced themselves from a Hispanic community because of their stance on immigration. The New York Times reports that, “Latinos turned out in record numbers and voted for President Obama, who won 71 percent of the Hispanic vote while Mitt Romney won just 27 percent.” Far from describing immigrants as “illegals,” Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) recently stated, “We are dealing with 11 million human beings, who are here undocumented, the vast majority of whom have come here in pursuit what all of us would recognize as the American Dream.”
Gang of Eight and Recent Proposed Reform
Recently, a bipartisan group of senators called the “Gang of Eight” created a plan for immigration reform. The most recent proposal from the “Gang of Eight” gives undocumented individuals a chance to undergo a criminal background check, pay a fine, pay taxes, and live on a probationary status, as part of a path to citizenship. This part of the proposal is contingent upon, among other things, additional measures to strengthen border security, verification requirements for employers hiring immigrants, and improvements in tracking current visa holders. Both Republicans and Democrats are hopeful that this round of immigration reform will result in positive legislative change.
For more information before Pizza & Politics, check out the New York Times’ topics website on immigration reform here.
5 Questions to Consider:
1. Should undocumented individuals that are otherwise law abiding citizens be given a path to citizenship? What should the requirements be?
2. Would imposing a fine and probationary status on undocumented immigrants seeking citizenship be a disincentive for registering and going through the path to citizenship?
3. To what extent should the human element (e.g. family reunification) be considered in the debate on immigration reform?
4. To what extent should security and border control be considered in the debate on immigration reform?
5. What should be done with children brought to the United States illegally, but raised as typical citizens?
The floor is now yours…
Neal Mason is a member of the Executive Council. Neal graduated from Southern Utah University with a BS in Political Science and also works as the Research Director for the SUU branch for the Institute of Policy Analysis.
The graphic above was created by Stephanie Hammer, who is a Junior at Southern Utah University studying graphic design.