Friday, March 11, 2011

Immigration “reform” drive won’t die off

Through the sister weblog to this site, The South Chicagoan, I often hear from the conservative ideologues who want to believe they have “killed off,” once and for all, any effort toward  immigration reform.

These are the people who want to dance with joy at the embarrassing political activity that occurred back in December, when the Senate refused to even allow a final vote on the DREAM Act, letting their ideological hang-ups insist upon thinking of young people trying to advance themselves in life as somehow subversive to their vision of the “American dream.”

YET THE REALITY is that this issue isn’t going to die off. It is not going to end until the day that the federal government (which has the ultimate responsibility to address the flaws in our nation’s immigration policy) gets off its collective duff and takes action.

The reason why that day is forthcoming is because of the young population that is growing  more and more so in our society. There’s too many people who are personally affected who are going to refuse to continue to be ignored – and too many people whose sense of compassion and decency makes us realize that the “problem” is the people who want to turn their backs on them.

That is how I see the gathering of activists that occurred Thursday at the Daley Center – the site of so many downtown protest rallies that it becomes too easy to lose track of which cause is up for debate on any given day.

Those officials holding their “National Coming Out of the Shadows” rally are marking their similar event held a year ago to the date, which was followed up by similar rallies in other cities across the nation. That is likely to be the pattern in coming weeks – people are going to be showing their continued support for this particular issue.

WHAT HAS ALWAYS amazed me about opposition to the DREAM Act in particular is that it is nothing more than people letting their ethnic hang-ups get the best of common sense, since the people who would benefit from it are the ones who are making every effort in the conventional sense to advance themselves.

Higher education, or military service – with the benefit of a visa (and eventual chance at U.S. citizenship) given only if one successfully completes it. I hardly think anyone capable of receiving an honorable discharge from the military is subversive to our nation.

There is one aspect to Thursday’s events that I think to be totally appropriate.

That rally at the Daley Center was within site (literally across the street) from the building we think of as City Hall – only the city portion is on the other side. It is Cook County officials who could look out their windows and see the young people.

CITY OFFICIALS ON LaSalle Street could pretend that nothing unusual was happening. Considering that those officials include Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel, it is ironic because Emanuel during his time as chief of staff to President Barack Obama did a good job of pretending that the issue didn’t exist.

Now the political observer in me understands his theoretical point – that the people who most oppose immigration reform measures would get so angry at anything he did on the issue that they would revolt and shut down Obama’s entire presidential agenda.

Then again, the hard-core Republican ideologues found enough reasons to try to shut down anything Obama desires to do as president. So I’m not sure that Emanuel gained anything for the president by steering him away from anything more than cheap rhetoric on immigration reform-related issues.

Now that we’re going to have Emanuel as mayor, he’s no longer in a position to continue to stall activity on this issue. Which means the voters of Chicago may well have done the nation a favor – although whether or not Obama’s new chief of staff, William Daley (as in the brother of departing mayor Richard M.) will be inclined to care about this issue remains to be seen.

IF BILL DALEY is really attuned to the mood of his hometown, he will have to care. Because this remains an ethnic city, where even the “white” people are fully aware of their ethnic backgrounds – and where the Latino people who take a heightened interest in this issue (because it relates to how we’re perceived as a whole, regardless of our citizenship status) have risen ever-so-close to the day when they’re exactly one-third of the city (29 percent, to be exact, according to the 2010 Census Bureau results).

This remains a “sanctuary city” where it is official policy that local police have no business getting involved in federal immigration enforcement. It makes us the antidote to places that view Arizona as some sort of model for local officials – whose training doesn’t come close to preparing them – desiring to meddle with this issue.

Which likely means that “the Chicago Way” is the way for the nation to follow. And there was a whole gathering of young people who on Thursday were more than willing to lead those of us who are reluctant down the proper path.


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