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Astronaut Argues for Immigration Reform, Says It’s Clear that System Needs Fixing

by Mahwish Khan on 09/17/2009 at 3:19pm

Few of us have seen the world as José Hernandez has… literally.

On Monday, Hernández, an American astronaut and son of Mexican immigrant farm workers, argued that America should legalize undocumented immigrants, saying, according to the Associated Press:

“The American economy needs them…I believe it’s only fair to find a way to legalize them and give them an opportunity to work openly, so they can also retire in a traditional U.S. system.”

José Hernández helped his parents in the fields as a young child in California’s San Joaquin Valley.  And it was largely due to their struggle in coming to the United States and their hard work once they were here that gave Jose Hernandez the opportunity to be who he is today – one of the world’s few Hispanic astronauts. He expressed this sentiment to those who were listening:

“What surprised me is when I saw the world as one. There were no borders. You couldn’t distinguish between the United States and Mexico.,” and that he wishes all world leaders and politicians could see the Earth as he has, ‘so they could see our world, that really we are one, that we should work together.”

To say the least, NASA was incensed – “ballistic” according to the Los Angeles Times:

Officials at NASA flipped. They hastened to announce that Hernandez was speaking for himself and only for himself. “It all became a big scandal,” Hernandez later told television viewers. “Even the lawyers were speaking to me.”

But Hernández did not back down, noting time and time again that it doesn’t make sense to deport 12 million undocumented immigrants:

“Having 12 million undocumented people here means there’s something wrong with the system, and the system needs to be fixed.”

I have to say, it’s been a relief this week to hear a public figure stand up for real immigration refrom.

After Joe Wilson’s “lie,” Baucus and Conrad taking a hard right-turn on immigratoion in their health care reform, and FAIR with its anti-immigrant lobbying “blitz” on Capitol this week, Hernández brought back to the forefront what so few seem willing to consider: a logical debate on immigration that actually prioritizes fixing what’s broken.

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