The Obama administration’s shift towards arming the Syrian opposition fighters in the war against the Assad regime has rightfully received bipartisan backlash on Capitol Hill. The decision bears a striking resemblance to the U.S. paramilitary operation that supported the Afghan mujahideen against Soviet occupation from 1979 to 1989. If the end result of that policy is any indicator, President Obama’s shift will not end well.
While it is the Latino community most affected by our broken immigration system, we recognize that African and Caribbean immigrants will also be significantly affected by any changes to that system.
While some changes will work for the common good, others have potential to exacerbate already widening racial, ethnic, and cultural disparities. As black and Latino faith leaders, we are concerned for all God’s children no matter the color of their skin or their nation of origin. We write to you today, members of Congress, because our faith has compelled us to collaborate to do our part to help solve this serious issue.
They asked that the path to citizenship be expedited for all in America who didn’t have it.
Any debate around immigration necessarily requires us to reflect on what it means to be American. In a country that includes Ellis Island, San Francisco’s Chinatown, New Orleans’s French Quarter, Native American reservations, Puerto Rico, and Spanish Harlem amongst its icons, this national dialogue of who is and who is not American is often fraught with emotion and, unfortunately, at times, nativism. For some nativists, a person is not American and, indeed, has no right to live in the United States, unless the person can read, write and speak English. Most recently, it is this form of nativism that is threatening to guide immigration reform in Congress today.
Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) introduced amendments to the immigration reform bill that would exclude many immigrants from a path to legalization based on their language ability.
It's sometimes easy to believe that the divisions of Congress mirror those of our culture. Fortunately, and unfortunately, they do not. It is fortunate that our country is not as divided as our leaders. It is unfortunate that we've chosen representatives who, at times, so poorly represent us.
For decades our county has largely ignored the 11 million illegal or undocumented immigrants living within the United States. It is time for us to open our eyes and confront the problem staring us in the face. By not addressing the issue, we place an unnecessary burden on American households and hinder our economy from growing to its full potential. Members of Congress must now come together and allow immigration reform to go through an open and transparent process in order to create a bill that works best for all Americans.