Lawmakers aren’t the only ones who are “guardedly optimistic” over the recent proposals to reform the nation’s immigration process. Immigrant advocates are also wary of where the framework proposed by the senatorial “Group of 8” will go.
But there’s already cause for concern, said Arturo Carmona, executive director of Presente.org.
While it’s good that immigration has moved to the political forefront, he told The Raw Story on Tuesday, “you’re continuing to see the failed model of bartering legalization and citizenship for increased enforcement during a time when you can’t get any more enforcement in the system.”
The proposal by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and seven other senators from both major parties calls for a “secure border” as a prerequisite to establishing citizenship tracks for the 11 million or so undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S.
However, Carmona pointed out, not only have immigration levels have reached a net level of zero, but President Barack Obama’s administration deported 1.5 million immigrants during his first term, setting a new record.
McCain and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told Politico on Wednesday that their contingent has started discussing the security issue, with Schumer questioning reports that the plan gives border state officials the power to derail a pathway to citizenship.
“What’s a secure border, and who’s going to decide that?,” Carmona said. “Is it going to be [Arizona Gov.] Jan Brewer (R), [New Mexico Gov.] Susana Martinez (R) and [Maricopa County Sheriff] Joe Arpaio?”
McCain has also been dismissive of same sex immigrant couples’ place under his group’s proposal, calling them “a red flag” in the discussion, and telling Politico that including them would be like a “taxpayer-funded abortion.”
“We’re concerned that relief for binational GLBT couples is not part of the framework,” said Asian American Justice Center President Mee Moua.
Moua told The Raw Story her group would work with lawmakers in both houses of Congress to make sure any changes to the immigration process address families that would be affected by the Uniting American Families Act, which calls for U.S. citizens in same sex relationships to be able to sponsor their partner through the immigration process.
That Obama’s own proposal, which he revealed on Tuesday, does include LGBT couples, she said, did not go unnoticed.
“I wouldn’t expect anything less of this president,” Moua said. “The reason why he enjoyed the kind of re-election favorability among the different constituent groups is that we knew and we expected for him to show that kind of leadership.”
Moua also pointed out that while immigration is traditionally defined as a Latino issue, 1 in 11 undocumented immigrants come from the Asian-Pacific Islander community, as do 1 in 10 students eligible for the DREAM Act, a piece of legislation Obama also supported.
“Whether you’re talking about the [citizenship] backlogs, or you’re talking about the undocumented population, or DREAMers, we, the Asian-American community, has a stake in each of those buckets of reform that need to take place,” she said.
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