Much has been said as of late on the renewed interest in comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) in the 113th Congress. We've heard plenty from politicians on all sides of the issue, but we haven't always heard enough from those most affected by current immigration policy. That changed last night at the Henderson Democratic Club, when Dream Big Vegas' Astrid Silva explained the current debate in Congress... From the perspective of someone who's survived the current immigration system.
While some G-O-TEA Congresscritters keep demanding a permanent underclass or unrealistic mass deportations, others seem to be signaling a willingness to deal on cut some sort of CIR deal. Have any of them actually talked with immigrants about their first-hand experience? That's what I was thinking about as Astrid was speaking.
Last night, Astrid elaborated on what are emerging as the big flash points in Congress' CIR debate: a pathway to citizenship for the 11,000,000 undocumented immigrants in America today, and what to do with binational LGBTQ families. So far, President Obama and Senator Harry Reid have expressed strong support for both. However, some Republicans have been threatening to kill the nascent CIR consensus over one or both policy proposals. Last night, Astrid gave a face and a voice to these immigrants who have so often been dehumanized on Capitol Hill.
This is something important to remember as the CIR debate continues. What will we do to bring these people out of the legal shadows? What will we do to keep families together? What will we do to stop the exploitation of underprivileged workers?
These are not just bargaining chips for Members of Congress. These are real people. And it's important to remember this as we're talking about immigration reform.