It Has to Happen: Real Immigration Reform in 2010

“Is it ever ‘the right time’ to pass immigration reform and a path to legalization?” asks Maribel Hastings at New America Media. The short answer? Yes. Our national economic situation dictates that we are smart about the resources available to us all. It’s also a moral imperative to adjust our laws to protect the most vulnerable of us.

Hastings runs through the complications, campaign promises, and opportunities facing the Obama administration in regards to immigration reform. While acknowledging the nature of our government as “a complex organism,” Hastings nonetheless signs off with a warning: There are many awaiting action today, people “who voted for Democrats with the expectation that they would make comprehensive immigration reform a reality.”

This year is primed for immigration reform. Activists worldwide are pushing for a “record number of ratifications” to The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Their Families (ICRMW), as reports. The ICRMW was adopted by the United Nations in 1990, and “sets standards for humane working and living conditions for migrants.” To date, 42 countries have are signatory to the ICRMW and 15 more have taken “preliminary steps to approve the convention.” While the U.S. debates reform, protecting and supporting migrants should be at the front of the list.

The Washington Independent looks back at 2009, a year in which immigration was never center stage, and yet it managed to impact every other major issue on the table, from health care reform to the economy. Daphne Eviatar profiles five individuals who shaped the immigration debate for good or bad in 2009. Characters such as the infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona, and commentator Lou Dobbs, formerly of CNN are included in the list, but admirable women like Dr. Dora Schriro also made the cut. Dr. Schriro’s reports on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention system led directly to “a major commitment” to overhaul it.

In the light of policy and compacts, it is important to remember that there is a dark and often violent side to the immigration reform debate. Luis Ramirez was beaten to death by multiple local youth in Shanendoah, PA. The local police worked to obscure the facts of the murder and thwart justice, but their complicity and hand in the judicial process has been uncovered, as RaceWire reports.

Former Shenandoah mayor Thomas O’Neill’s description of the police department reads, essentially, as a gang felled by hubris: “If they want to help somebody, they will, If they want to hurt somebody, they’ll hurt them. There’s nothing they could do that they couldn’t get away with. That’s what they thought.”

Another incident that exposes the inadequacy of current immigration laws can be found in the case of Haitian community activist Jean Montrevil, who now faces deportation, as Democracy Now! reports. Montrevil is a working father of four, married to an American woman, a “longtime community leader,” is very involved with local immigrants rights groups and checks in with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regularly and voluntarily. During one such check in Montrevil was detained and marked for deportation.

ICE is removing a tax-paying and productive member of society for a 20 year-old drug conviction for which Montrevil did his time—11 years in prison. There is no chance of a legal appeal, though ICE has the power to defer the deportation. If it isn’t halted, Montrevil’s wife Jani will be left alone with their four children. Before 1996 immigration reforms passed by Congress and signed into law by Bill Clinton, a judge would have had discretion to consider the effect of such a deportation on the children.

Melissa del Bosque reports for the Texas Observer on the violent fallout from Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s continued drug war “on the Mexican side of the [U.S.-Mexico] border.” del Bosque notes a disturbing trend: A growing number of uninvolved people in the proximity of State- or cartel-initiated violence in Mexico are being impacted by the violence. This is an important balance to mind, as law and State forces are designed to help the populace thrive. Various sources place the death toll in Mexico between 9,000 and 13,000.

We conclude this week with a big shout out to Wiretap, which is closing its doors. Wiretap was a well-written, vibrant, and relevant collection of writing by younger people. Their writing on immigration was original, provocative, and useful. We wish them well. You will be missed!

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

See more posts tagged with: 

smi23le via flickr/creative commons
by Nezua, Media Consortium


Sa R.
Sa R8 years ago

I truly hope that Jean Montrevil has not been separated from his American wife and 4 children. To deport him (and to Haiti???) shows lack of compassion and humanity.

Mary C.
Mary C8 years ago

Nobody "comes with papers". I don't get that one??????? You get those papers through legal channels. Anything else is illegal and unacceptable.

I agree with Vijay.....

in view of the multifarious impact, immigratration can not/ should not be universal. I labour to keep my house in order, labout to improve it, why should someone not as concerned and having my priorities , be permitted to spoil my house. This is the simple logic. Why migrate, be at your place and make it like the place to which you wish to migrate. This will create not spots of happiness, but make the whole world a place of happiness.

Nellie K A.
Nellie K Adaba8 years ago

I'm a legal immigrant from Belgium. The immigration laws need to change for everyone. It's not some illegal immigrants' faults if they didn't come with papers, it's the fault of their own government.

Nellie K A.
Nellie K Adaba8 years ago

Laws should change because not everyone if they wnat to or not my Mom is an NGO so I immigrated here because of that - she got transferred and I got a better education here than I did in Belgium or Europe.... Some people are migrant workers

Elodia Resendez
Elodia R8 years ago

When I get paranoid I believe that Clinton wanted NAFTA to help businesses in the USA lower wages to the level of those in banana republics. When I am "normal" I believe that we all end up where the Good Lord wants us.

Vijay Walia
Vijay Walia8 years ago

in view of the multifarious impact, immigratration can not/ should not be universal. I labour to keep my house in order, labout to improve it, why should someone not as concerned and having my priorities , be permitted to spoil my house. This is the simple logic. Why migrate, be at your place and make it like the place to which you wish to migrate. This will create not spots of happiness, but make the whole world a place of happiness.

Silvia C.
Silvia C8 years ago

To begin with...An inmigration reform will be very well deserved.

NO HUMAN BEING IS ILLEGAL......They could be called indocumented but not illegal.

People who is here indocumented work here doing the jobs that anybody else would take..they work on the fields under extreme weather conditions and they get paid very low amounts.
They contribute in many different ways to make this country what America is about. They contribute economicaly,culturally...making this country diverse and richer.

If the inmigration reform ocurs this year, will help to improve the economy of the country, people will pay to get their documents, will have licence, get insurance, buy cars, houses.will be able to travel, to buy stuff and help the economy.

Please support and don't just fair for all those people who have worked for years, without getting any money back from their taxes .. Just for a minute imagine not having not even an ID or a license; or living with fear of being deported and living your children just abandonned

Daniel W.
Daniel W8 years ago

Reform in 3 simple steps:
1. Remove any and every incentive to enter the nation illegally.
A. Babies born in the US illegally are not US citizens.
B. No goverment assistance is given to people in the US illegally except a quick ride to the border to be returned to thier country of origin(origin meaning where they crossed the border, not where they left from originally).
C. Anyone entering the US illegally is barred from legal entry for 10 years. 3 convictions means permenant barring.
D. Illegals do not have constitutional rights, only citizens of the US have constitutional rights.

2. Make the process for citizenship validate the value of the individual. We want people who will be good citizens, not people who have already commited a crime just to be here.

3. Make the process of entry into the nation as a citizen progressive. Give a 1 year probationary "green" card to prospective citizens. They are temporarily given all the rights of Americans (except no Social Security, drivers license, Welfare, Education or Medicare) and they must have a host family (someone who will take responsibilty for them, legally and financially).
After 1 year during which they take citizenship classes and are expected to get a job, pay taxes and be a asset to the communinty, they go before a immigration judge who tests them and based upon thier actions in the past year and their present status can grant them the right to become citizens.
Any crime breaks probation & they

Elaine Dixon
Elaine Dixon8 years ago

keep the fingers crossed that it doesn't turn into a mess.

Mary C.
Mary C8 years ago

James D, its the same with the construction industry.

Welcome Steve R!!!!!! I hope things work out for YOU, and not the illegals. We want everyone here, like you, who go through the legal channels to be here. Its sad when those committing crimes (plural, yes crimes, more than one) entering this country get more consideration than those like you doing it by the book, and legal US citizens. But HOW do we stop this???? NO ONE wants to do the right thing. They just want the Hispanic vote.