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4 Reasons We Can’t Let U.S. Immigration Reform Be Forgotten

4 Reasons We Can’t Let U.S. Immigration Reform Be Forgotten

Remember immigration reform?

Back in June, the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration bill that included a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants without papers in the United States. While some House Republicans had made their opposition to the bill quite clear — claiming that the bill would provide “amnesty for lawbreakers” — some 26 Republicans have been identified who would support immigration reform.

On Wednesday, President Obama said that he hasn’t given up on comprehensive immigration reform despite the government shutdown and the debate about raising the debt ceiling, both of which have contributed to a sense of pessimism about the immigration reform bill passing.

As advocates for immigration reform recently noted in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, it’s crucial to keep up the pressure on Congress. The reasons we need to pass S.744 are all the more glaring when you consider what’s happening to immigrants in other parts of the world.

1. The Mediterranean is becoming a “sea of death”

In recent weeks, many migrants have died while crossing, or trying to cross the Mediterranean. About 400 migrants drowned this month, more than 360 in one shipwreck alone, off the island of Lampedusa. Last Friday, at least 33 died when their boat sank between Malta and Lampedusa. Just on Tuesday, 370 migrants were rescued from three boats between Sicily and Lampedusa.

2. Many migrants are fleeing civil strife in their homelands

Of the 30,100 migrants who reached Italy after sailing from North Africa between January 1 and September 30 of this year, the majority were from war-town countries. 7,500 were from Syria and 3,000 from Somalia. Another 7,500 were from Eritrea, where thousands have either been imprisoned for their political views or are forcibly conscripted into the army. Many of these migrants have legitimate asylum claims.

3. Even though migrants help the economy, they’re told to go back home

In September, U.K. prime minister David Cameron proposed a plan that would reduce European Union “benefit tourism” and also limit the number of citizens from new E.U. countries (Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania) who come to the U.K. in search of work.

Statistics reveal that migrants from the E.U. are actually more likely to be working than U.K. citizens. Cameron’s proposal is but one sign of anti-immigration sentiment in the E.U. The Golden Dawn, the far-right party that has won seats in Greece’s Parliament, has blamed the country’s economic woes on immigrants and has been connected with many violent anti-immigrant attacks. France’s far-right party, the Front National, which has long been associated with antisemitism and racism, has also been gaining support, as seen in recent electoral victories.

4. Even amid rising migrant deaths, the E.U. remains uncertain on immigration policy

Martin Schulz, the President of the European Parliament, is calling on E.U. nations to rethink asylum policy by making a radical change, opening more legal immigration channels. As he recently noted, “Europe has to recognize at last that it’s a continent of immigration” and therefore in need of “modern laws which regulate legal immigration.”

Currently, the only way to immigrate legally to the E.U. is to obtain a Blue Card, which was modeled after the U.S. Green Card system. But each E.U. member decides on its application procedure and the requirements to obtain the card are tough: you need valid travel documents and job qualification papers, both of which refugees fleeing from countries riven by civil war are not exactly going to have.

Under E.U. law, asylum applications must be processed in the country that a person has first arrived in. Most people enter the E.U. southern Mediterranean countries like Italy or Greece. Addressing the needs of migrants falls disproportionately on the very countries that have recently been overwhelmed with their own economic problems.

As Sonia Nazario writes in the New York Times, many migrants don’t want to leave their homes. They simply have no choice but to brave a journey, however treacherous, to a strange place. Schulz says that richer nations have a “humanitarian obligation” to assist asylum seekers and migrants: all the more reason why U.S. lawmakers need to settle their own differences and discuss comprehensive immigration reform.


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Photo via Wikimedia Commons, Roy Luck, No Border Networker, J. Logan

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10:22AM PDT on Jun 15, 2014

@ Robby K. "IF you come here illegally, you need to be deported legally."-Robby K

If I were you Robby, I would not push that argument very far. Please remember, that what is now America, belonged to the Native Americans first! Lol!

9:14AM PST on Nov 16, 2013

lack of compassion for fellow man confuses me

8:50PM PDT on Oct 29, 2013

Yes Robert- if I did not state it before, I DO agree w/your point. I see it from both sides, but the greed of some of the businesses will never cease & will eventually cause our demise.

10:00AM PDT on Oct 29, 2013

Congratulations on stating the obvious Robby. However the politicinas have little or not power to stop people from crossing the borders when business WANTS them cropssing the borders, and is in fact, are recruiting them up here. The ONLY way to stop the flow is to punish the companies hiring them. Until that happens all the crap spewed about illegal immigations is just bullshit.

Profit rules this country far too much. Profit is a good thing but it is not the ONLY thing.

3:14AM PDT on Oct 26, 2013

It doesn't make a difference in the world what country was built on "immigrants." Several hundred years ago, "might makes right" was the way of the world. The American Indian was treated worse than any contemporary minority. We now have a set of laws & borders to protect our countries & their inhabitants. To hope for illegal immigrants to flood the US is hoping for the failure of the US. For those not up to date, we have a $17T debt caused by Bush 1, Clinton, Bush 2, & Obama, as well as a 14% real unemployment rate, businesses cutting hours b/c our healthcare may soon be run by bigger crooks than before (for those states not opting out, unfortunately), & no sign of ANY relief in the for seeable future. IF an American illegally tried to live in another country (& freely off their benefits, while trying to make that country conform to our minority whim BS, the way minorities do us) they'd be subjected to such inhumane punishment, it'd make deportation look fun! We have an economy that is riding the ragged edge & we have Bernanke printing up so much $ that it's now worth LESS than Monopoly $. HOW are we supposed to take on another 13M + family members, anchor babies, etc, in addition to the predicament (understatement of the century) we're in at the moment? You want the US to literally implode & fall on it's face? Obama said we lived in the greatest country on earth & then said "...let's change it." Seems many want to do just that!

2:14AM PDT on Oct 25, 2013

absurd talk about immigrants....the western world was built on immigrants. Wake up

11:37PM PDT on Oct 23, 2013

What is the evidence that there are more undocumented people in the States now than in January 2009? I've read that the number of 11,000,000 has not changed in the past six years because, thanks to the George W. Bush recession, there are no jobs.

Finally, what would happen to the States if all 11,000,000 people were to vanish? Who would pick our crops, care for our children, clean our houses, work in the hospitality industry?

11:34PM PDT on Oct 23, 2013

Some have posted that undocumented people bring disease to the United States. Some ways to stop this are first, to upgrade the United States public health system, and second, to make it clear that people are not deported when they seek medical attention.

11:32PM PDT on Oct 23, 2013

A really good way to stop the flow of undocumented emigrants fleeing poverty is to ensure that every woman in the world has access to affordable, effective, easily available, and legal contraception and abortion. We've vaccinated the world against small pox. We can do this too! This policy would also humanely reduce environmental degradation and human overpopulation.

2:33AM PDT on Oct 23, 2013

Reading some of the comments makes me wonder if most of you have happily forgotten how and why their ancestors got to America, Australia, South Africa and Europe and so on. People migrate for different reasons and have always done, since the "Out of Africa"-thing. And what did we expect dividing the world in a wealthy and healthy and a poor part? Even if we accept constant massmortality behind the closed borders, we can´t fight the process at all. All we can really do is to try to arrange it as satisfying as possible for all parts.

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