(5 min read) - There are many stories that show why immigration reform concerns us all. In 2006 I met a young mother of two in Sarasota Florida who was gravely ill. Her farm work did not leave her with enough to afford treatment. Back then I was a Dreamer, my own experience being brought here as a child meant I knew how vulnerable the children and their mother were. We organized media attention and a community fundraiser so the family could obtain the treatment the mother needed. Over and over I have come across terrible situations like this where people suffer despite working hard for corporations that make tremendous profit off that labor. So why do poor migrants get blamed and not those that profit?
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. The profits and work they do far outweighs the related costs of residency, like the above mentioned health care. Some politicians tell us to blame migrants for those costs instead of those that profit. Blaming migrants for problems is an old political ploy to unite a base of voters, most often by politicians who receive donations from those who profit off migrant labor. It's not just politicians, there are business, faith, civic, and media interests that benefit from these profits and from riling up prejudice to hold together a voter coalition. The problem is businesses and politics that exploit this workforce and how that contributes to the undocumented being paid less while the related health care, education, and other costs are pushed on to the rest of us.
The existing immigration laws were written by anti-immigrant politicians and 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. We need to talk with our neighbors about immigration reform.
- Why is the politics that is angry about amnesty for migrants, okay with everyday amnesty that corporations receive while breaking immigration law for profit?
- If this is really about law and order, why aren't Republicans deporting corporations that profit? How can you claim this is about law and order while defunding law enforcement against profiteers; along with reducing the penalties and enforcement of existing laws against those that profit from undocumented labor?
- Who benefits from Republicans focusing law enforcement, funding, and punishment against migrants?
- Since 1995 we keep throwing money at and putting the focus on migrants, but that has no correlation to reduced migration rates.
Polling - Immigration Reform
- 69% - supports a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the country (NewsNation, 2022.02)
73% - “their own United States Senator should vote for these citizenship proposals”
(Global Strategy Group, Hart Research, and BSP Research, 2021.06)
Polling - Border Control
- 67% - “support turning illegal immigrants back to Mexico.”
- 64% - “Support Stricter Border Policies”
52% - Approve. “Biden on Immigration”
Source: Harvard/Harris June 15-17
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.”
(Global Strategy Group, Hart Research, and BSP Research, 2021.06)
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. 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. 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.