Immigration Reform: Let's Get This Done

By: Elianne Ramos, Principal and CEO of Speak Hispanic Communications and Vice-Chair of Communications and PR for Latinos in Social Media (LATISM).

Follow Elianne at @ergeekgoddess.

On his annual State of the Union address, President Obama stated the need to make sure that “America remains a place where everyone who’s willing to work hard has the chance to get ahead.”

Meanwhile, the 11 million undocumented immigrants hailing from all parts of the world for whom that promise is more than just a line on a speech, await with bated breath for the politicians in this country to steer into action. The time has now come to finally bring a just, humane solution to an immigration system that continues to shred apart the very fabric of these families and prevents them from a dignified way of life.

The latest proposals from bipartisan groups in both chambers and by the President himself are an encouraging step in that direction, but in the minds of those affected, many questions still remain. For instance, how long will the waiting period be before millions of children are able to reunite with their deported parents? How would the penalties to employers who hire the undocumented affect the families of those employees? Will there be a path for millions of low-skilled immigrants? What does “the back of the line” look like for those who have already been waiting there?

For politicians, it’s sometimes to easy to fall back on statistics and platitudes, yet for those whose very livelihood depends on how these items are interpreted and implemented, the ‘line items’ on a proposal carry very real consequences. This is why it’s very important that we now double-down on what’s being done to achieve a just plan that takes into account the human lives behind the statistics.

Now that all the cards are on the table, this is perhaps the most critical moment in this long and drawn-out fight. The efforts of community organizations like LULAC and others have been crucial in getting us this far, but it is imperative that every single one of us presses on to make sure that these proposals don’t get stuck in the political tug of war that will undobtedly follow in the months to come.

We must continue joining the marches, telling the stories that put a face to the issue, reminding the country how essential solving immigration is to restoring our economic health. We must cross the lines of ethnicity and join other communities who are also affected by this issue, just like our Latino community is. Most importantly, though, we must continue pressing on our elected officials to do what is just, necessary and frankly, overdue. In other words, as the President said last night, “we know what needs to be done […] Now let’s get this done.”

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