March 28, 2006

Immigration Round 1

The explosion of the immigration issue, vaulting quickly to perhaps the most contentious and important issue not only for the country in general but the upcoming midterm election in particular, certainly has a Colorado dimension, beyond the 50000 or so who showed up to demonstrate in favor of amnesty for illegal immigrants this past weekend:
In Colorado, organizers of a ballot initiative to deny state services to illegal immigrants also claim to have received dozens of calls and e-mails from new supporters.

"The more brazen (the protests), the better it is for us," said Mike McGarry, acting director of the Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform.

But a coalition of local and national immigrant rights groups points to the Monday passage of a friendlier immigration reform bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee as proof of the power of the massive protests, including the 50,000 people who marched in Denver and 500,000 in Los Angeles on Saturday.

The protests clearly have launched the illegal immigration debate to the top of the public agenda "for keeps," said John Straayer, a political science professor at Colorado State University.

The issue is now inescapable, Straayer said. "Even a year ago it didn't have the prominence it has now."

This won't be the end, either.

The protests are "a predictor of more to come," Straayer said.

A large coalition of pro-immigrant groups is planning a "Day of Action" April 10 across the country. Details of the Colorado event have not been decided.
That should be oodles of fun. Both sides are energized and galvanized and heading for a more tumultous clash either at the polls, or in the streets. This is an issue with legs, and will continue to be an issue for the country as long as it exists. Balancing the need and acceptance of immigrants with economic and legal concerns. No side advocates closing the borders, or inhumane treatment of anyone, even if they come to American illegally. The question is whether or not this behavior should be recognized or rewarded with guest worker status, amnesty, deportation, or citizenship.

The pro-immigration rights organizers were "stunned" by the turnout, and foresee a new "civil rights" movement:
Spanish-language radio and television exhorted listeners and viewers to participate.

The Catholic Church signed on as an official sponsor.

Yet, organizers admitted that they were shocked by the 50,000-plus people who rallied Saturday in Civic Center to defend the rights of immigrants.

"We were stunned by the outpouring for the rally," said Bill Vandenberg, of the Colorado Progressive Coalition. "It's an emerging civil rights movement. We're at a turning point in Colorado."
Not quite sure how people here illegally can stage a "civil rights" protest, beyond the basic human rights dignities that are already observed and are not even in contention. Most immigrants from areas other than Mexico, Central and South America are forced to undergo rigorous and time-consuming, not to mention intrusive, investigations and vetting in order to become a legal citizen through the proper channels. My future brother-in-law is a prime and immediate example. A citizen of the U. K., he and my sister have to tackle forms galore in pursuing their wish to be married, and my brother-in-law to become a U. S. citizen. Others too deserve such a chance, but should not be rewarded for violating laws and intruding without legal documents proving a legitimate status in their new country. Treated with respect and shown compassion and understanding? Absolutely. Given free reign to come and go as they please without obtaining any legal status while waiting for amnesty? Nope. Once again, all are welcome without regard to race, ethnicity, national origin, primary language, religion, economic status, etc. etc. provided they come here with intentions to procure a legal standing and citizenship.

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