I am not an expert on immigration.
But I do know this: very few of us can trace our family lineage all the way back to native people who lived here before the first European settlers and their African human chattel) arrived. In one sense, most of us are immigrants. And many of us would not make it legally today–given the limits in place.
Which is part of the reason I was so moved by the trailer for a film being shown this week at the Human Rights Campaign in Washington. It is focused on one aspect of the problem–namely that same-gender couples can easily lose out and face separation or leaving. You can watch the trailer by clicking on this link http://www.involuntarydeparturefilm.com/
This needs to be fixed of course, but there are so many parts of what is a dysfunctional system that need fixing.
But so much of the time the immigration debate feels to me like what I know can happen in other groups (churches sometimes, for one): We’ll pull up the bridge before any more folks get in.
Now, I know it is more complicated than that.
But still as I listen I can’t help but feel that a lot of the efforts to send folks home–including children who were brought here by others–is simply a form of “I’ve got mine, and you can’t have it.”
That is not the way to grow, and certainly not a recipe for prosperity. Any business that insists on staying the way it was last year or five years ago or ten or more will simply die.
And now comes the Congressional Budget Office which says that an economic study of the bill currently being considered in the Senate–which includes a pathway to citizenship–shows that the benefits of an increase in legal residents would outweigh the costs. The study projects a decline in the federal budget deficit, due to the legislation and its longer term effects, could amount to close to $1 trillion.
This would seem to be good news to many in Congress who talk a lot about reducing the deficit,
However, a significant number of House members, mostly Republican, are drawing a clear line in the sand: no pathway to citizenship for those here illegally. I hope this new study will convince them to relent and work out a bill that includes a pathway to citizenship (none of the pathways in the Senate bill are easy or quick).
But I fear that even many of those who trumpet the need to close the budget gap will forget that concern in order to stand “tough” against foreigners. Sadly, of course, most of them are no longer foreigners.
They are us.
I hope they’ll be able to stay, We need them. Just like we need Alon and Sandro (from the film).
I regret I can’t go to Washington to see it, but if you can, make your reservation at www.hrc.org/June20