Immigration reform: Substance above rhetoric - Doing what is right

ADVERTISEMENT
We caution people involved in the ongoing discussion about immigration policy to put the rhetoric surrounding this issue into perspective. While tone should be a part of this discussion, rhetoric alone will not solve either the political or policy problems inherent in this issue. We actually have to get the policy right. Tone alone will not solve the moral crisis engendered through having 11,000,000 undocumented people, their 5,000,000 citizen children, and the several million legal or citizen spouses of the undocumented that are living desperate lives in the shadow of the American Dream. Tone alone will not solve America's inevitable economic difficulties as we struggle to remain the most productive economy in human history. Tone alone will not protect our nation's borders against drug and human smuggling, and tone will not remove the magnet of illegal immigration because tone alone will not insure that our Nation's businesses verify that all employees are eligible to work here legally.

Tone is ethically relevant. It bestows on all people the dignity of humanity. However, it actually goes much deeper than that. How we define the most vulnerable among us defines us as a nation. Conversely, a recent Op-Ed by Dan Stein, the president of F.A.I.R., that was published in The Hill, titled, "Immigration Reform is Not About Semantics," encourages Republicans to continue to employ the words, "amnesty," and "Illegal," openly and with abandon. He further makes the argument that Hispanics don't really care about immigration reform, they primarily care about the economy. Dan Stein and F.A.I.R. just don't get it. He and his organization are incorrect on both counts.

Not only is Mr. Stein's article tone deaf, his arguments are self-defeating, tired, and just plain wrong. Let us shed a little light on this subject through a specific example. Back in June of 2012, we met with one of the most senior campaign strategists for the Mit Romney presidential campaign. In that meeting, this gentleman argued strategy with us for reaching out to the Hispanic community. His argument was entirely consistent with Mr. Stein's message. He believed that Mitt Romney would win over the Hispanic vote with an economic argument, citing polling that suggested that the economy was the primary concern of Hispanic voters. We cautioned that the issue of immigration was a gateway or threshold issue, and that if Mitt Romney didn't cross the proverbial "Jordan" on the immigration reform issue, then nobody in the Hispanic community was going to listen to his economic message, or anything else that he had to say to them. There is no question but that Mr. Stein and F.A.I.R., (not to mention Mitt Romney), have lost this argument - through documentable proof - but the anti-immigration lobbyists are pressing forward with their anti-immigrant and anti-immigration message anyway, and are therefore doing a true disservice to conservatives all across the country.

We do not wish to demagogue anyone or their ideology. However, we should explain where Mr. Stein and F.A.I.R. are coming from. F.A.I.R. has a long and thoroughly documented history of population-control advocacy, a position that Mr. Stein confirmed in another recent Op-Ed in Politico, “FAIR: Attacks Acknowledge Effectiveness.” The founder and the board of F.A.I.R. have long associated themselves with Planned Parenthood and other "abortion on demand" organizations. Make no mistake, F.A.I.R. has long used the anti-immigration argument as a means to an end for their extreme population-control agenda. We believe that true conservatives would be well advised to stay well away from anything F.A.I.R. or their sister population-control organizations NumbersUSA and the Center for Immigration Studies say or do. Social conservatives shouldn't touch these pro-abortion organizations with a 10 foot pole.

We, as a nation, are well past the time for the worn-out arguments perpetuated by the anti-immigration lobbyists. In closing, we agree that tone is an important element of this ongoing conversation, but the policy discussions about immigration reform go way beyond rhetoric. We must get the policy right, once and for all. America is the land of opportunity, and the shining city on the hill. We are the exceptional nation. We are also a Nation of immigrants. We must have an immigration policy that is as exceptional as our nation. We deserve and demand that our politicians come to this discussion with open minds and open hearts, with their eyes squarely on the determination to solve this dilemma as pragmatists, as patriots, and especially as Americans. Our Nation's political leaders must not listen to the population-control lobbyists and their tired and worn-out anti-immigration agenda. The revision of our broken and antiquated immigration system is about doing the right thing for our Nation.

Gittelson is president of Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform and is senior immigration policy advisor to the NHCLC
Rodriguez is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.