Yesterday, together with faith, immigrant, community, civil rights, small business, legal, economic, and other community leaders, we began a nation-wide, community-based effort to reform immigration for America – for all of us, so that our country and communities can move forward. Here in Nebraska, we came together in both Lincoln and Omaha -with voices from large and small towns from a wide range of perspectives to say that it is time to work together to remake an immigration system we can all be proud of and that upholds the values that make our country great, values of family, community, dignity, due process and the rule of law.
For those who may not think about this every day, ask yourself: Do you know how our current immigration system works? It is our responsibility to to know and to ensure that it lives up to our country’s standards and values. Most people who begin to learn about it are very surprised and alarmed by what they find. Do you know that many immigrants face a 5, 11, or even 20-year wait for a visa while separated from their families? Do you know that for medium or low-skilled workers who don’t have family here, there simply isn’t a line to get into, no way to sign up? As the New York Times put it in a recent editorial entitled Ellis Island Is Closed, “today’s immigrants can’t simply get in line like our ancestors did at Ellis Island. Many are unaware of this – instead starting from the presumption that there is a functioning legal path into this country (there must be, right? Wait, there isn’t?) which makes a very different starting point for the discussion.”
The current system isn’t good for any of us. Our economy cannot afford the inefficiencies of the current system – particularly now. As part of our economic recovery we must reform our immigration system immediately. And at the same time, our communities and families cannot bear the divisions and disconnect from our values.
Our vision is a system that is true to our country’s principles and great immigrant tradition, that allows our communities to focus on everyone’s talents and to get on with the business of working together as neighbors. We invite all Nebraskans to join us in working this year for a common sense, practical solution that will allow us to move forward together. Please log-on to www.reformimmigrationforamerica.org to become a partner for immigration reform or text “Justice” or “Justicia” to 69866.