A quick-fix by President Obama on immigration may not be a good solution for undocumented Latinos in this country— and this is coming from a Latino, so I’m speaking primarily to my brothers and sisters.
I know perfectly well that a fix to our immigration system is a must. This can cannot be kicked down the road anymore. However, to do things that fast now by an executive action would only delay an adequate response to this problem. And ultimately, it would hurt the long-term benefit that any immigrant in this country might see in the future.
If President Obama legitimizes the stay of illegal immigrants overnight, many communities where Latinos live in America may face more challenges than they bargained for.
In many cities where you have large populations of undocumented Latinos— such as Chicago, Miami, New York, California, and border towns in Texas— we will see that of their vital social infrastructures are not ready to handle added people. Particularly, health care systems in many of those cities are already at full capacity. They just don’t have the resources or medical dollars to handle an influx of undocumented residents, especially if those residents are allowed to stay.
The foreign-born population— which includes legal and illegal immigrants— in California is 10.3 million, or 27 percent of the population, 2012 data from the Pew Research Center shows. About 23 percent of New York’s population, or 4.4 million, are immigrants, while about 16 percent, or 4.2 million people, of Texas’s population were foreign-born.
In many communities, Latinos know all too well that school systems are not well prepared to handle the massive influx of children from illegal families. These children may not get adequate education, again, in the future because we simply don’t have the resources in those school systems to provide it to them.
In many Latino communities around this country, safety is an issue. We have had the proliferation of gangs, which in many cases are being fermented by illegal immigrants. We see over and over again that many undocumented or illegal Latino criminals work the system in such a way that they beat deportation and are free to go about hurting our communities.
Just look at the case of suspected cop killer, Luis Enrique Monroy-Bracamonte, an illegal immigrant who was arrested in October for the shooting deaths of two Northern California sheriff’s deputies during a carjacking, leaving another deputy and an innocent bystander wounded. This, after being deported in 1997 and again in 2001 because of drug and weapons-related arrests.
In many cases, these immigrants who are committing crimes— like Monroy-Bracamonte— are hurting daily, the Latino communities that are trying to start a new life in America. In other words, our own illegal criminals are hurting the very fabric of legal immigration.
Now, I don’t want to see families broken up, especially when a small child is brought into this country by an undocumented parent, and has now been in this country for many, many years. I understand that these young people now only know America, love America and appreciate America.
So a genuine fix has to be made. But we cannot stop this problem ourselves.
Proper immigration reform must be created by our elected Congress— that represents all the people, and so they work for the people and only the people. So, as a Latino, I am saddened to hear that the president may execute an order to mandate and bypass the potential for a genuine immigration bill and not wait for the new Congress to participate in that action.
Any Latino that comes to this country should know that he or she is an American first. If you have come to this country— like many other people from other cultures have come to build a life in America, which is based on constitutional values— every Latino has to agree with me. I know that for many families who are undocumented, they see the immigration problem as their own. In other words, they think, “Immigration is only important if it affects me.”
But we cannot think like that because what has made America great is that we consider all of the people – we consider their safety, their education, and, more important, how to provide safe medical care.
We cannot continue to run this country without transparency. We cannot continue to run this country by acting first, and not considering what the consequences of our actions will be.
By taking this quick action— rather than setting up a permanent strategy for immigration— again, who’s going to get hurt, but the legitimate people trying to come to this country legally? Latinos have to be aware that a quick solution may only dampen the adequate implementation of legal immigration, and more important, border control.
A proper immigration bill will give Americans— including those of Latin decent— a strong border, which will prevent criminals and terrorists from coming into our country.
It will also send a message, loud and clear, to the countries in South America that they need to get their acts together and improve the lives of their own citizens— whether it be Mexico, El Salvador or Guatemala— because a lot of the people coming to our country are doing so in search of a better life. Many of these people have no hope in their current situations. And I understand that plight. Isn’t that how we all got here? But that message will not be received unless we have plan for the long term.
The bottom line is: We need a long-term strategy to help the Latinos who are trying to do the right thing by becoming American citizens. I hope that the president reconsiders his position, and that the process of a good, democratic debate ensues.