An editorial in today’s NY Times speaks to the upcoming fight for immigration reform and the hard, but hopeful, road ahead. The endorsement of labor unions has bolstered the White House’s announcement of a move on reform this year and we are gearing up to push back against the sure-to-come rhetoric that reform is somehow not compatible with economic recovery. (If you would like some black and white proof of why this is wrong, check out the Immigration Policy Center’s most recent report.)
American workers and businesses continue to be undercut by the underground economy. The economic potential of some of the country’s most industrious workers is thwarted. Working off the books — and living in constant fear of apprehension — they earn less, spend less, pay less in taxes and have little ability to report abuses or to improve their skills or job prospects.
The ingredients of reform are clear: legalization for the 12 million, to yield bumper crops of new citizens, to make it easier to weed out criminals and to end the fear and hopelessness of life in the shadows; sensible enforcement at the border that focuses resources on fighting crime, drugs and violence; a strengthened employment system that punishes businesses that exploit illegal labor; and a future flow of workers that is attuned to the economy’s needs and fully protects workers’ rights.
We stand strong with the President and with the AFL CIO and Change to Win in their endorsement for reform. There is a lot of work to do, but I am confident that, together, we can make it happen.
We expect to hear more from Mr. Obama soon. It will take courage to defend the wisdom and necessity of fixing the immigration system. It will take even more courage to engage in the serious fight to do so. It is what the country needs and what American voters elected Mr. Obama to do.