As President Obama spoke again about immigration and the badly needed reform in San Francisco earlier this week, he was interrupted by a young DREAMer frustrated with the record high deportations under this administration. Obama stopped and addressed the protester’s concerns reminding everyone that we are all trying to fix our broken immigration process, we all want America to return to its days prosperity and innovation, we all want families to remain together and employers to be able to employ the talent they need in an orderly and timely fashion.
But what we must remember this Thanksgiving is that what makes this country great is the coming together to do what is right as a Nation; to be compassionate, understanding and welcoming. Our country is politically divided on immigration reform. No other issue since the civil rights movement has divided our country so deeply. One side pushes for inclusion, compassion and understanding; the other for order of law, security and limits. Both sides have good points, but they miss the opportunity that this challenge presents. The diametrically opposing views are precisely what make this country great. As our Nation continues to advance, grow and develop its demographics and aspirations may change, but our values remain the same: hard work, family and liberty. The challenges facing us are not new. This country has seen challenges from its inception and those struggles have taught us lessons that we must not forget - lessons in compromise and healing.
The debate over our immigration laws has turned advocates against each other over strategies for the advancement of the cause; it has created strife within political parties with those espousing a more restrictive approach seen as heartless and unkind. It has given political pundits and reporters a wealth of discord to report on, analyze and editorialize. Yet amidst all this conflict, the American people are watching. The majority of Americans do believe our immigration laws need reform and support a path – albeit an arduous path - of welcoming those already here to fully integrate to our society.
As we gather around our dinner table this Thanksgiving, let us begin the healing of our nation by giving thanks for the ability to understand each other. Let us reach across the table and acknowledge the positions of our opponents. Let us validate their concerns and work on reaching a compromise that will result in tangible solutions to our broken, inhumane and dysfunctional immigration laws.
We all want inclusion of those who live among us and contribute to our economy, we all have compassion for the struggles they have experienced in coming to this country and we understand their aspirations to be recognized as Americans. We also acknowledge the need to maintain an orderly and secure border to protect those liberties upon which this democracy was founded, and we understand the limits needed to maintain that order. However, we must build a functional system for the continuing influx of those wishing to come to our country. We need that system to be efficient and reasonable, something that is currently lacking and causes the circumventing of our current process.
The healing of our differences can only begin with giving thanks for the challenge and opportunity facing us. We must embrace it and act upon it; we must reform our immigration laws wholly and completely for the process to make sense. The Senate has acted on a comprehensive package, the House has an opportunity to propose piecemeal legislation aimed to do the same. Stop the bickering and finger-pointing and come together. We have a lot to give thanks for. Let this Thanksgiving go down in history as the time we finally tackled the incredibly difficult task of reforming our immigration system.