Written by Mary Olivella
For my grandmother, Obdulia Olivella, moving was a part of life.
She was born in El Salvador and moved to Panama as a young woman to help her U.S.-born husband start a business. Over the next couple of decades, they would move with four children in tow to the United States, back to Panama, then to Venezuela and ultimately settling permanently in the United States.
Families move. Immigrants are people who move. Thankfully, for my grandmother, due to her personal circumstances, it was not difficult to obtain U.S. citizenship. But this is not the case for the 11 million people currently living in the United States without documentation. These families and their contributions are woven into the fabric of our communities.
Yet, ask pretty much anyone, and they’ll agree: Our nation’s current immigration system is broken.
Most of us can relate to the hardships associated with moving, especially with children in tow. Moving is a shared experience for most people; a recent survey found that 70% of people in our nation have moved from the local county in which they were born.
People understand moving, and understand that we need to fix our outdated and broken immigration policies. In fact, the vast majority of Americans back a plan for comprehensive immigration policy reform. And, according to the latest Associated Press poll, the majority of Americans favor providing a process for undocumented immigrants already in the United States to become U.S. citizens.
However, even though the President is making immigration reform a top priority for his administration, and even though a bi-partisan committee of Senators has just released their principles for comprehensive immigration reform, there is no guarantee that Congress will stop their posturing and agree on policies that are good for all of our families and ensure a thriving economy.
Immigrant families are indeed key contributors to our nation’s economy and we must move quickly. Over the last 15 years, immigrants have increased the rate by which they start businesses by more than 50 percent, and undocumented immigrants contributed more than $11 billion to our economy in 2010 alone.
The clock is ticking for families and for our economy. All parents in our country should be able to work hard and be able to provide for the well-being of their families.
Let’s face it, most of our families came to the United States from another country at some point in time. We are a strong, innovative nation because of our diverse backgrounds. The time is now to fix our outdated, broken immigration system.
This post was originally published by MomsRising.
Photo: jonathan mcintosh/flickr
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