Thursday, July 18, 2024

Comentarios from Maria: “Immigration Reform Must Be Priority”

Maria CNN Headshot

The “leaders” we elect to represent us in Congress should have the ability to chew gum and walk at the same time. A recent article in suggested that due to the problems facing the country with regards to Syria and the national budget, immigration reform is dead- at least for the next two years.  I find these conclusions to be troublesome and a big mistake, because immigration reform must continue to be a priority for policymakers.

In such article, Steny Hoyer, the Representative from Maryland and second highest-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, said that there are several pressing issues to resolve, and that the Republicans, who control the House, do not know how to lead, therefore such issues remain unsettled and we all lose. Given a dysfunctional Congress, how can we achieve working solutions? This is the time for our representatives to put on their pants and act as the leaders they are supposed to be. Nobody said this would be easy. However, using the situation in Syria as an excuse for inaction on immigration reform is unacceptable.

In this week’s address to the nation on Syria, President Obama has said that the United States needs to respond to the violations of international law committed by the Assad regime, as they threaten our national security. Republican leaders, like House Speaker John Boehner and Senator John McCain, stand behind the Administration’s policy regarding Syria. If so, then they must understand that an overhaul in immigration policy is also critical for our national security. We have to get those 11 million undocumented immigrants out of the shadows and see who’s residing in this country, as it was once urged by President Ronald Reagan during the reform of 1986.

Back to that old saying that you have to be able to chew gum and walk at the same time. It is clear why Americans overwhelmingly disapprove of Congress.  But if we analyze the current state of affairs, how is it possible that our leaders are unable to manage two things at once? Congress is one of the most powerful institutions in the world but at this pace, the 113th Congress is on track to be the least productive in modern history, with only 15 bills signed into law so far. This is shameful.

Perhaps, members of Congress have lost the political will to fix the problems facing our nation, but we-the American people- have not forgotten why we are fighting. We are fighting for the farm worker constantly struggling to achieve the American Dream, and for the undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children -often called Dreamers – who want full integration into our society, as they are Americans. We need immigration reform and we need it now.

We cannot accept any more excuses or delays regardless of the circumstances brought upon us.  Immigration reform is one of the most highly debated issues in Congress. No one can therefore argue that there has not been sufficient opportunity to study and discuss plans, proposed bills, or analyze our currently broken system.

We must not allow Republicans to use the situation in Syria, and budget or debt-limit deadlines, to pass on this great opportunity to do something that will benefit the entire country-a decision that is already widely supported among Americans. We can show the rest of the world that when it truly matters, a nation and its leaders can come together to do what is right.

I urge you to contact your representatives in Congress today and remind them to act and work hard to achieve commonsense immigration reform. The time is now, enough of excuses.

This piece originally appeared in Spanish in the Washington Hispanic.