During the recent virtual mobilization sponsored by the We Are Home campaign, which has been calling for citizenship for millions of immigrant to be enacted this very year, voices have emerged at all levels echoing the never-ending call so that, this time, the effort is seen through and this long postponed goal is finally realized.
At the political level, the words of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, as well as those of the Democratic Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer, stand out in particular.
Pelosi directly appealed to the debt we owe to immigrants in saying, among other things, that they “make America more American with their determination for a better future for their families. More importantly, we owe them not only gratitude, but action.”
Schumer, for his part, adopted a more expansive position when he said: “We have a lot to do to make the United States a more inclusive, fair country once again … I promise you I will not rest until we bring these [communities] out of the shadows.”
Underlying the promise that the very words of both Democrats signify, on this occasion, is a sense of urgency that further drives the need to recognize, through migration regularization, the millions of human beings who have given everything, literally, to this country for decades.
This time, failure is not an option and, therefore, it is necessary and obligatory to move from promises to actions.
Because whether they are farm workers; DACA, TPS, or DED beneficiaries; or even more recently essential workers during the whole COVID-19 pandemic, risking their very lives and those of their families; these undocumented immigrants have completely fulfilled their part in the social contract of this nation of immigrants, even during the four long years of the prior administration, who applied the most draconian immigration policies in the country’s recent history to keep them from advancing in U.S. society. And even still, they resisted.
Essentially, there are many debts owed to millions and millions of immigrants who, in spite of the xenophobic, racist, and anti-immigrant rhetoric, have shown they are determined to not take one step backward, both as an example of their persistence to ensure their families’ wellbeing, but also as the most concrete and irrefutable proof of the development of this 21st century nation, in all senses. Their presence—their demographics—represent the guarantee of relief to keep a country like the United States alive and all that it has meant for contemporary history.
Those who don’t see it that way continue to offer their shamelessly discriminatory opposition, as if the multiple benefits that undocumented immigrants have provided this nation are not worth anything, simply because they lack legal immigration status.
That, at the political level, obviously leads to a hurdle that seems insurmountable. But with the power that the Democratic side now enjoys, plus the mechanism of the reconciliation process to settle many of the pending issues on their legislative agenda without Republican assistance, immigration among them, there is no time to wait or waste. Not any longer, as what happened during the prior Democratic administration, when they had everything in their hands but preferred to look the other way. And everyone paid the price.
Therefore, the backing of the majority of U.S. society to achieve a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants who keep not only the political class, but the entire nation, alive day after day is another of the elements to take into account in this most recent chapter of the fight that has dragged on for years.
That is, it’s all good and fine to applaud the compromise obtained by pro-immigrant leaders, who show an undeniable political harmony on immigration reform, but one has to preserve the strength to continue pressuring them until the end, so that their words don’t turn into whispers. Never again.
To read the Spanish version of this article click here.