Tragic Neglect of Immigration

Rudy Ruizm, CNN, August 19, 2009

One of the greatest challenges for minorities in any democracy is that their priorities often differ with those of the majority.

Consequently, even if a minority group does not experience outright tyranny, it can suffer tragic neglect. That’s the lingering problem with immigration reform.

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Instead, why don’t we step up as a nation and face the challenge with a level of honor and attention that is consistent with the best of our ideals? After all, the Statue of Liberty raised its torch to welcome immigrants, not to light the way for the insurance executives and Wall Street bankers prioritized by policymakers today.

I grew up on the border and I can honestly say, it pains me to watch us squander billions on a border fence when we’ve yet to see a man-made structure that can stop the forces of nature. What we call “immigration”–in the case of Latinos–is actually a pattern of migration, a natural movement of homo sapiens dying of thirst and hunger, seeking water and nourishment in more fertile grounds.

Comprehensive immigration reform should thus be viewed as an essential measure to protect human rights on our soil and continent. This is a time to think big, not small. This is about more than laws and lines drawn on a map.

It is about the origins of our humanity, not our nationality. Real people are suffering as raids continue, border deaths and hate crimes escalate, and families are destroyed.

“Without a solution, the problems will only worsen,” I was told by Salvador Sanabria, executive director of El Rescate, a non-profit serving immigrants in Los Angeles, California, for 27 years. “Comprehensive reform will save lives, keep families together and give immigrants the opportunity to contribute fully to America’s economy and security. It’s a humanitarian issue, but it’ll also benefit America to do it right.”

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In that spirit, we should unite to make this not only a Latino priority, but an American priority. And all people of good conscience should speak up for what’s right–or risk creeping towards tyranny by neglect.

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