(5 min read) - Immigration reform concerns us all. Undocumented workers make up 3.4% of the population. A 2016 study by economists Ryan Edwards and Francesc Ortega estimated that their removal would result in an annual loss of $434 billion to our economy. Migrants contribute greatly to our economy and society. The problem is businesses that exploit this workforce pay less in wages while pushing health care, education, and other costs to the rest of us.
The existing laws written by anti-immigrant politicians allow those that profit to get away with it. These same politicians then deploy racism to shift blame over to poor migrants with the help of many religious and media influencers. Some businesses are even profiting from the imprisonment of the undocumented after they lobbied congress to increase deportations. The consequences of this corruption to migrant communities is terrible, so it’s important to pause and consider the human toll.
Adriana Cerrillo, a lead organizer in the CIR Now campaign, knows one such story intimately. In 2006 she met a young mother of 2 who was gravely ill. Her farm work did not leave her with enough to afford treatment. As a young Dreamer (a person brought to the US as a child) Adriana helped organize media attention and a community fundraiser to help her obtain the treatment she needed. Over and over Adriana has come across terrible situations like this where people suffer needlessly. There is a politic that benefits from this and it’s important to get real about the problem we face.
The racist hypocrisy against reform includes anti-immigrant politics that:
- Favors de facto amnesty for corporations that profit, while being outraged about a pathway to citizenship for migrants;
- Reduces law enforcement against, funding of law enforcement, and punishment for corporate profiteers;
- Instead focuses law enforcement, funding, and punishment against migrants;
- Fails to decrease migration this way since 1995, but is outraged by US foreign aid to address root causes of migration.
Thankfully, despite racist media and politicians, polling regarding the #11million finds support for:
- 68% - Pathway to citizenship proposals remain supported
- 73% - “their own United States Senator should vote for these citizenship proposals”
When we introduce the following proposal to voters, President Biden’s approval rating on the border moves dramatically from the negative ratings mentioned earlier (35% approve/54% disapprove) into a positive position (52% approve/42% disapprove).
“President Biden says that what is happening at the border is a serious problem that is a direct result of a broken immigration system that has been ignored for too long. That's why Biden is acting decisively to put solutions in place to address the problem. Biden is working to safely and securely manage the southern border with new investments in technology and infrastructure, while also addressing the root causes of migration and building capacity to process migrants and children in a humane way that reflects American values. President Biden is focused on solutions and moving forward quickly with policies that can ensure both order and justice at our border.”
Source: Global Strategy Group, Hart Research, and BSP Research June 24
Yet, public option about more undocumented migration is negative:
- 67% - “support turning illegal immigrants back to Mexico.”
- 64% - “Support Stricter Border Policies”
- 52% - Approve. “Biden on Immigration”
Source: Harvard/Harris June 15-17
Although further undocumented migration polls negative, polling clearly favors those already here. So why has immigration reform failed to pass? The greatest challenge is insufficient institutional and strategic focus on winning a congressional majority for immigration reform. There are groups that do good work. For example, the Black community does a great job in this. Black organizing produces a 90%+ vote against anti-immigrant politicians. Unfortunately, other demographic groups are not as well organized in support of immigration reform.
We all know from working with groups that a change in direction requires we obtain support of a clear majority of decision makers. To pass immigration reform we need to organize The People's agreement via their representatives in Congress. If that fails, then we need to go out to the states and ensure the election of a clear majority to congress in support. It does not matter if it is a major sale, a church building renovation, or a union contract proposal; if you fail to build this majority agreement among decision makers your proposal will likely fail.
Great change does not happen without a 60 Senate majority willing to debate the proposal. We need a movement of organizers dedicated to helping migrant communities win this support. We must elect congressional majorities needed to pass #CIR. Even when you win an election, members of Congress will oppose reform. We must organize accountability within their district until vulnerable obstructionists are polling to lose the next election or the lack of consequences incentivizes delay. We need organizers committed to doing the related essential community organizing. To mobilize a large majority of voters to support us, we need allies, so we also need to support others in their needs as we want their support for immigration reform. In 2020 a coalition of 81 million voters removed an anti-immigrant president and agreed on what we call a Platform for Progress which includes comprehensive immigration reform. Our campaign is dedicated to not only our cause, but to supporting others in this 81 million voter coalition as we want to be supported.