Will We Keep America the Land of the Free?

Kevin Solis.

America is called “the land of the free” and as a continent extends from Cape Hope to the Arctic Circle. Now, legislation is being proposed to militarize the northern and southern borders of the United States of America, the two longest peaceful borders in the world with the president and senators talking of “boots on the ground” and “operational control” of the borders.

As 9-11 was the excuse to end run around the Constitution and create unreasonable and warrantless searches, so too with the excuse of Immigration Reform legislators are figuring out what to do with the military and defense spending of foreign wars in Iraq and Afghanistan winding down; they propose to bring the war home and unleash it on our domestic front and upon our neighbors to the north, Canada, and south, Mexico. Countries by the way that are free trade partners through NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), collectively the single largest economic power in the world and quite simply our friends and allies.

Since neither political party is voicing any opposition to the increased militarization of the borders, and we can guarantee immigration reform will include additional laws to further criminalize immigrants, who in this land of the free will defend to keep it free?

It is possible to modernize legal or “authorized” immigration [increasing, or even eliminating the visa quotas to allow the economy to dictate annual migration, granting green cards to anyone earning a degree] without involving border security issues, in fact it is an economic necessity. It is possible to bring out of the shadows the 11 million unauthorized American workers and integrate them fully into the economy and society without creating further criminal laws. And we can address border security separately if we believe it is a still a problem because by addressing the issues of authorized and unauthorized migration the border security problem will go away; no one would pay a coyote hundreds of dollars to come here or risk death in the desert if there were a proper and fair way to cross back and forth along the border.

We will see a comprehensive immigration reform bill that will tackle these three related but separate issues insuring the military and law enforcement pieces will be included. The question before us is do we in immigration reform have the will to decouple border security and criminality of future migrants from this reform, in effect, killing reform? Do we take immigration reform at any price and watch this “land of the free” become the land of the militarized, surveilled, and criminalized? As DREAMers advocating for their rights and the rights of their parents, are they willing to walk from a package that creates citizenship for some and incarceration for others and future immigrants?

In fact, the non-profit industrial complex of Latino organizations are already talking about how DREAMERers could “screw this up” by voicing any opposition.

So much responsibility is in hands of this generation of American immigrants. What is at stake is living their lives never getting the chance at becoming citizens in exchange for ensuring that their children, and the children of the America’s will not be tomorrow’s criminals, will not see this nation cut itself off from the rest of thecontinent, will not see America distance itself from the land of the free.

In 1936 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said “There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.” As was true then, this generation of American DREAMers has a rendezvous with destiny, what they decide will affect themselves, their parents, this country, and this continent for decades to come.

 

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