From issue: Memos to the President Elect (Fall 2008)
Reform the Immigration System
"The vast number of Mexican immigrants [in the U.S.] represents a highly qualified and motivated labor force that would be a resource to any country."
“Mother of exiles. From her beacon-hand glows world-wide welcome…. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Emma Lazarus’ famous poem is engraved on the pedestal on which the Statue of Liberty stands. The invitation implicit in those words is so compelling that every day someone dies in the desert near the U.S.-southern border, attempting to reach the United States. Thousands of Mexicans, Central Americans and others from the larger region take the same dangerous route every year, no matter the risks, abandoning their families, homes, friends, and countries.
However, faith in the Promised Land soon turns to disillusionment. Many of those migrants face xenophobia, racism and economic exploitation. But this does not have to be inevitable. We can either allow Latin American immigrants to continue sinking into the U.S. legal quagmire, or we can take measures to make freedom a reality for those who have sacrificed much to get there. That will require, first and foremost, a new policy spearheaded by the next U.S. president.
A good start would be to recognize who these migrants actually are…