American Dreams on Summer Break
By Jossie Flor Sapunar on 08/06/2013 @ 05:17 PM
This post was originally on The Hill's Congress blog and can be read here.
Written by: LULAC National President Margaret Moran and Executive Director Brent Wilkes.
As children across the country prepare to go back to the classroom, our nation’s leaders are on recess until September. While Congress is on summer break, the future of 5.5 million children is in limbo. One million unauthorized immigrants under the age of 18, and 4.5 million U.S. born children of undocumented parents, are anxiously awaiting immigration reform.
During this “vacation,” our community must rally to support the passing of the landmark bipartisan bill which will affect 11 million people residing in our country without proper documentation. They come from all corners of the world seeking the American Dream. And the American Dream cannot be achieved without them.
Undocumented immigrants are propelling our economy. They are putting in to our society without reaping the benefits. While the economic benefits of our immigrants should be common sense, an analysis released by the Congressional Budget Office made it crystal clear: Comprehensive immigration reform will provide the U.S economy with a trillion dollars in gains over the next two decades.
The analysis highlighted that immigration reform would also increase wages and tax revenue; and extend the longevity of social security. This should be simple for even the most resistant to understand: immigration reform is what our economy needs. Now.
Yet, anti-immigrant protesters manipulate the human conscience by proclaiming that undocumented people are why jobs and resources are scarce. At the LULAC 84th Annual National Convention, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack put the ducks in a row, explaining that without the undocumented immigrants working the fields, our agricultural system would collapse and the prices of our daily meals would skyrocket.
Today, we are living in a different United States from the days in which LULAC was founded 84 years ago with the commitment to improve the lives of our community and our country. We have elected a president of the United States of African-American origin and now have a Latina Chief Justice. The “majority” are now ethnic minorities.
Yet, we still face widespread racism, bigotry, and fear of immigrants and minorities. Possibly stirred by what we see on our television screen or at the movies, we have misconceptions of Latinos and of the immigrant community. We are a people of faith. We are committed to our family, and believe that hard work is its own reward. We are adamant to ensure a better future for our children. We are Republicans and we are Democrats, choosing our representatives based on issues, rather than parties. We form one of the most powerful voting blocks, as evidenced in the election of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
That is why the House of Representatives must listen to our voices, when they consider the next steps for immigration reform. And our community must let our representatives know that we will not sit back and let this bill fall through the cracks or be steamrolled.
For any immigrant, becoming an American citizen is a joyous day, full of pride and appreciation. Immigrants have bought into the ideal that our America is everyone’s America. Our country historically has opened its doors to “the tired and the poor.” This is part of what makes the United States so great. We are a land of immigrants, and we can’t close that door. But we can close our door on politicians who are not supporting the American Dream.
Moran is national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and Wilkes is LULAC's national executive director. LULAC is the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. For more information, visit www.lulac.org.
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