Our View- Immigration reform should not focus on people

The need for fair and legal immigration into the United States is apparent. Likewise is the need to secure American borders. So, when a federal judge, last week, preliminarily blocked key parts of Arizona’s controversial immigration bill was she aiding the cause of roughly 11 million illegal immigrants. Or, was she simply wagging her finger at xenophobic Arizonians? The answer to this question is neither because until Congress focuses on immigration reform nothing will change save American voting habits.

“This is a national problem,” said President Obama on CBS’s Early Show, elaborating that while he “understands the frustration of people in Arizona” he believes politicians shouldn’t use this frustration to garner votes à la Sen. John McCain. Many politicians, like the Arizona senator, have recently been apt to, according to the president, demagogue the immigration issue. The president’s words reflect the thoughts of this newspaper. It’s just too bad he’s calling the kettle black.

The Obama administration’s legal action against the state of Arizona has gone no further than bamboozling Hispanic voters in preparation for the country’s next election. No precedent will be set with respect to immigration and civil rights, and a conservative Supreme Court will likely overturn any ruling that seems like it’s trampling on states’ rights. The only thing that should be worth the vote of a demographic that cares so deeply about immigration rights is national immigration reform.

We don’t think the action taken against Arizona is any better than that taken by Arizona. The administration did not sue Arizona on the grounds that its immigration law violated the 14th Amendment. No, it sued to preserve the status quo, a broken system that helps no one — illegal immigrants included.

On the other side of the spectrum, Republicans are pandering to right wing nativists. Sen. Lindsey Graham, once a champion of legitimate immigration reform, has made it a point to attack birth right citizenship. Do we really have to bring back 19th century civil rights arguments?

“We should change our Constitution and say if you come here illegally and you have a child, that child’s automatically not a citizen,” he said on FOX News this week. Conveniently for Sen. Graham, changing our Constitution isn’t feasible during this era of dysfunction, so his words don’t mean much.

Just like suing Arizona under the legal pretense of the Supremacy Clause, threats of unfeasible Constitutional amendments don’t go any further than pandering to fringe voters who want to close our borders or leave them wide open. This is the demagoguery that President Obama was referring to.

As long as immigration is used to manipulate voters our country’s borders will continue to be abused and civil rights will continue to be violated. Talk of humane immigration reform has to start at the national level and this begins with sympathizing with the millions of immigrants who may have come to this country illegally but have contributed to it as well.

It’s like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, “[Illegal immigrants] are here, yes, against the law, but they’re here with the complicity of the U.S. government. It would destroy the economy if you deported them.”

The current system labels “illegal” many people who are no different than their “legal” neighbors. They speak English, pay taxes and are an integral part of their community. Should anyone be punished for the failings of the U.S. government?

It’s simple. No one is saying that illegal immigration should go unpunished. This would be counter-productive. However, if focus is taken away from individuals and ethnic groups and redirected at institutions, like the federal government or American businesses, which encourage illegal immigration, maybe then we can fix this national problem once and for all.

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