On May 7, 2013, the battle lines were drawn in the senate when members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Immigration Reform filed more than 300 amendments. This kicked off what is expected to be several weeks of hearings While Republicans introduced several measures to ensure that no one will be able to cross into America, those are expected to fail; Democrats hold more than half of the 18 seats on the committee.
The immigration reform bill, introduced by the bipartisan group known as the Gang of Eight, attempts to overhaul immigration — one of President Obama’s top priorities this year. The bill’s goal is to create new programs that will require all employees to verify their workers’ legal status while allowing tens of thousands of workers to enter the U.S. legally. The bill also aims to give legal citizenship status to the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants currently residing in the United States. The bill also presents measures to tighten border security.
The bill has many notable supporters. The Migration is Beautiful campaign released an open letter to President Obama and the members of Congress on May 7 detailing all of the ways in which immigration reform has currently fallen short. They detail how inhumane it is to detain someone indefinitely before they are deported, and to rip apart families who have now waited more than 25 years to be reunited with their loved ones. They are urging politicians to come up with a more humane immigration policy: “Creating a just and humane immigration process is a moral and cultural imperative that secures the future of a vibrant nation.” According to the campaign’s website, such a reform will do five things:
End the detentions and deportations that cause separation and suffering for families; Preserve families by expediting the visa process and retaining longstanding policies that reunite and stabilize families; Ensure all immigrants have basic workers’ rights; Provide equal immigration rights to LGBTQ individuals and families; and Create a clear roadmap to citizenship that includes all 11 million undocumented immigrants.
Some of the letter’s famous cosigners include actress Stockart Channing of “Grease” and “West Wing” fame; feminist author Julia Alvarez; comediennes Margaret Cho and Sarah Silverman; poet and author Alice Walker, writer of “The Color Purple”; and the bands R.E.M. and My Morning Jacket. Check out the full list here. It looks like supporters of humane immigration reform are in good, and artistic, company.
It’s no surprise that so many artists support immigration reform. Creativity knows no boundaries — or borders — and, often, writers and artists feel the need to travel in order to experience what they want to write about, photograph, paint, etc. Remember Hemingway’s famous running with the bulls to write “The Sun Also Rises”? This is not a new concept, and if borders are closed, such travel, let alone immigration, will be near impossible. Furthermore, many of the cosigners of this letter are first- or second-generation U.S. citizens, making the struggle for humane immigration reform all the more real to them.
We need immigration reform in this country, so why not concentrate on policies that treat immigrants like the beautiful human beings they are rather than treating them like a sub-human species? I believe Migration is Beautiful – do you?
Photo Credit: Julio Salgado, courtesy of Colorlines