A Personal Note About the Failed Immigration Bill

Although I have written on several occasions that our immigration and visa system is broken and in need of urgent repair, I have not been a fan of the current legislation running through the Senate, which was pronounced by all interested groups dead after the vote today:

“The most dramatic overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws in a generation was trounced this morning by a bipartisan filibuster, with the political right and left overwhelming a coalition of Republicans and Democrats who had been seeking compromise on one of the most difficult social and economic issues facing the country.”

I’ll spare you my specific viewpoints, aside from saying I’m skeptical of any government that uses the adjective “comprehensive” to describe a proposal, and the inevitable bickering that would take place in the comments afterward, but will say that the process by which this measure was initiated and was being pushed through the Senate was deeply disturbing. Backroom dealing, limiting debate on amendments, and ignoring the overwhelmingly negative opinion of the American people is not how our government is supposed to work.

It really did become a war between the People and the Senate, which was in cahoots with the Executive branch.

The Senate is also the wrong place to start this, they should stick to playing defense to the House’s offensive game. In the words of George Washington to Thomas Jefferson, to paraphrase, “the Senate is the saucer to the House’s teacup, it’s job is to cool it,” referring to legislation that initiates in the House.

I also feel, like a lot of people, that I am in a unique position to comment on this topic being an immigrant myself, although I will also add that my own personal experience with immigration is somewhat removed as I came here as a small child and did not experience the process firsthand. However, I did have to go through the process of citizenship, take an oath before a judge, and still keep the signed picture of the President that came with my certificate, protected in an envelope in a secure place. I value it greatly, and my obligations as a citizen.

My parents and my father-in-law are also immigrants to the U.S. and it was interesting to see their reaction to this bill. This is really the first time I have seen my parents motivated to act in response to an issue of government, to the point that my mother’s phone calls and letters to Senator Feinstein warranted a personal letter in response.

I gather through watching these first generation immigrants react to this process that their opposition has nothing to do with bigotry or obstinance but a sense of fairness that permeates what it means to be American to them. The idea that an entire class of people, who in their eyes are simply breaking the law, would get special treatment is unfair to them, and more importantly it devalues the hard work they went through at the hands of the legal process to become American in the first place.

In the end, isn’t it more important to have being a citizen of any country mean something to the people that do it, as opposed to it just being expedient?