Sen. Schumer needs to clarify his position on immigration reform

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Indeed, the Senator’s record has centered on enforcement and a militarized border: voting for building an impractical and expensive fence along the Mexican border. His website’s rhetoric aligns closer to immigration hawk Republicans like Sen. JohnCornyn and Mitt Romney, who advocated for self-deportation, than to Democrats like Sen. Dick Durbin or Sen. Robert Menendez. Specifically, Senator Schumer’s website goes on to detail that “after sustained advocacy, [he has] convinced the Obama administration to provide broader arrest authority to immigration agents stationed along the U.S. border.” Additionally, his position states “a primary goal of immigration reform must be increased “infrastructure, technology and border personnel”, never mind the countless reports indicating that the southern border has been controlled and that a record budget allocated to immigration enforcement has already been made, one which outspends all other federal law enforcement combined.

Only the Senator’s advocacy for border security has transformed to legislation in the form of the Emergency Border Security Supplemental Appropriations Act. This act provided over $600 million of reinforcements for border security, including additional Border Patrol agents to permanently patrol and deploy drones to fly along the southern border. The Senator’s focus on enforcement rather than family unity demonstrates a detachment from the demands of the Latino community that values family.

While Republicans lead the anti-immigrant rhetoric, Sen. Schumer’s continuing reference to our loved ones as “illegals” makes it hard to believe he is the champion on immigration. And now the emphasis on “securing the border” before providing a path to citizenship to undocumented immigrants makes it hard to know which side Sen. Schumer is on or who is advocating for us, specially where Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has taken a similar and prominent role.

During the 2012 election cycle, Latinos overwhelmingly voted for clear, practical, and humane immigration reform not contingent on border security, which is why 71 percent of Latinos voted President Obama and Democrats. This was more apparent in battleground states like Florida, Nevada, and Colorado. The president, in fact, has provided his blueprint indicating that he supports a practical and clear path to citizenship not contingent on a “secured border.”

When it comes time to the final bill, will the real Sen. Chuck Schumer stand up to extreme and out-of-touch Republicans and listen to his New York Latino constituency, or broker a deal for credit and political sake? DREAMers, the Latino and immigrant communities in New York will be watching closely whether enforcement is more important than keeping families together.

Vargas is director for the DREAM (DRM) Action Coalition and a national activist for the DREAM Act.