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Spreading democracy through immigration reform

Posted: Friday, Feb 8th, 2013

Immigration is not a problem in the San Luis Valley. Rather, immigration is an event that has been occurring for years and years – since Colorado’s inception – much like the United States.

Immigration reform has been on the minds of many people for many years. Before this past year, however, many people believed in ludicrous ideas like a six-foot tall wall that would keep illegal immigrants out. Others called for broader border control with increased weapons. Some have called for a mass deportation of illegal immigrants. The ideas are changing and changing in the right direction.

For the first time in recent history, there is bipartisan agreement that legislators need to seriously pursue immigration reform that helps the estimated 11 million people currently living in the U.S. illegally. The US already gives amnesty to children who were brought to the US illegally. But, the extension of amnesty based on meeting certain restrictions may become vastly broadened.

As stated in Valley Courier previously, some of what President Obama and some legislators are calling for includes streamlining citizenship for certain individuals who achieve a college degree in science, technology, engineering and math earned by foreign graduates who have found employment in the U.S. The legislation also aims to provide undocumented immigrants a legal way to earn citizenship: create provisional legal status; create requirements for lawful permanent resident status, such as paying taxes, learning English and passing criminal background checks; provide for children brought here illegally to earn citizenship by going to college or serving in the Armed Forces; and establish fraud prevention programs.

Further, the legislation hopes to eliminate backlogs in family-sponsored immigration and employment-sponsored immigration by temporarily increasing annual visa numbers and eliminating annual country caps; streamline visa and foreign visitor processing, for example designating countries for participation in the Visa Waiver Program; provide visas to foreign entrepreneurs starting businesses here; expand opportunities for investor visas; create new visa category for skilled immigrants working in federal science and technology laboratories on national security needs; streamline immigration law for immigrants who are victims of crime and domestic violence and those applying for asylum; and encourage immigrant integration.

These are not unreasonable ideas for legislators to consider. Illegal immigration is a problem that needs to be addressed. Included in the potential package is a call for strengthened bordered security and a crackdown on employers hiring illegal immigrants. But, the US has millions of illegal immigrants that are here because they want to be contributing citizens of our society. They value our lifestyle and the opportunity that we give our people.

It’s the right thing to do to find ways to help our neighbors, especially those who need help. In many cases, illegal immigrants were brought here – children that some of us went to school with, friends of your children. These children, maybe some adults now, only know life in the U.S. It our duty to find a way to keep these people here.

But, there are other moral and ethical decisions behind renovating our immigration policy. Some people come here because their country is oppressive, lacks clean water, etc. We find reasons to go to war to spread democracy, but sometimes we feel right by turning away immigrants who wish to find a better life in our democracy.

If immigration reform is passed as proposed here, many San Luis Valley residents would find comfort and solace in knowing that the only country they have known wants to help them stay here. Many people would know that we care more about humanity than fearing change. Immigration reform, this way, is right for the San Luis Valley and right the United States.

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