By Robert L. Reeves & Nancy E. Miller
As Bob Dylan sang years ago, "the times they are a-changin". Those words were never more true than they are today. A new Congress has been sworn in. Its make-up is vastly different than the Congress of the past several years. This week, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee will hold confirmation hearings on the nomination of Janet A. Napolitano to be secretary of Homeland Security. Next week, Barack Obama will take office. He brings with him many changes, including a new party in office. Democrats are in control of both the legislative and executive branches of government for the first time in many years. But what does this mean for the population at large? And, specifically, what does it mean for the immigrant community?
The many difficulties that this country is facing will not disappear on January 20, 2009. The United States will still be at war. The economy will still need to be fixed. These, and many other problems, will need to be addressed. It is natural to wonder about the order in which these challenges will be addressed. Which will come first? Whatever else becomes part of the "honeymoon" agenda, it appears more and more likely that immigration reform legislation will be introduced in this year’s Congress.
Sources close to the incoming government have placed immigration reform within the top 10 matters to be addressed this year. In a pleasantly surprising development, the American labor movement has come out in support of immigration reform. All employees are vulnerable in this economic downturn. The unions understand that putting all workers on an even playing field and protecting them from exploitation benefits everyone. Bringing the 12 million people currently without status out of the shadows will help accomplish that worthy goal and the unions recognize that.
Encouragement that immigration reform is on the horizon also comes from a most unlikely source. The restrictionists (those against immigration reform – or, truth be told, against all immigration) have begun a drive to replenish their coffers in anticipation of a major immigration reform battle. If they have read newspapers or paid any attention to the election results from this past November, they must realize that their position has been rejected by the vast majority of Americans.
Reference to the broken system and to immigration reform appear everywhere. Newspaper editorials are speaking out for immigration reform. In a recent article in a major local newspaper, President Bush admitted that he wasted political clout in 2004 by focusing on social security privatization when he should have pushed for immigration reform. The tide of public opinion is in support of immigration reform. As we have in the past, Reeves & Associates will continue to do everything we can to see that changes in immigration law are fair to the immigrant community. We will fight for the return of due process and other basic rights for non-citizens. We will fight for a common sense approach to immigration that keeps families together and allows employers to hire the skilled workers it needs to stay in business and keep the businesses in the United States. We will strive to provide an avenue for legal status for those who have previously been ordered removed from the U.S. While we have raised these concerns in the past, thankfully today, we no longer feel that our voices are "blowin in the wind".