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Voices Across Political Spectrum Agree: Citizenship Matters

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citizenshipCitizenship is the mainstream position in the immigration debate.  Despite attempts by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), and others to position earned citizenship as an “extreme” position, the opposite is the case – the burgeoning push for “no citizenship” is the outlier position, outside the American mainstream.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund, “our country has come too far to repeat the mistakes of the past and legislate the establishment of a permanent second-class in America.  If you’re here to stay, work hard and pay taxes, you should be given the chance to earn citizenship.”

Don’t just take our word for it – see below for a range of observers from across the political spectrum making the same case:

Leading Newspapers & Columnists:

  • New York Times Editorial Board: In a new editorial, the Times writes of Rep. Goodlatte and his fellow members: “The false middle ground he and others on the committee seemed to be seeking was limbo: legal status without hope of citizenship. Or, second-class noncitizens…Republicans have been so estranged from a reasonable immigration discussion that it’s not surprising they don’t know what one looks like.  Since the last big bipartisan reform died in 2007, Republicans have dug into a trench on the far right, declaring that legalization in any form is anathema. The re-election of Mr. Obama and the dismal performance by Republicans among Hispanic voters rattled the party deeply and dislodged some Republicans from that noxious orthodoxy.   Judging from Tuesday’s hearing, many in the party still see immigrants as problems to be separated and contained…Their defeatism was yet more evidence of a party deeply out of step with public opinion and American history, in which waves of newcomers have been absorbed into the republic without being forced into a permanent underclass.”
  • Washington Post Editorial Board: The Post editorializes that “House Republicans came eyeball to eyeball with sweeping immigration reform Tuesday, and they blinked. No matter that a bipartisan group of senators including Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a favorite of the Republican right, has endorsed a pathway to earned citizenship. In a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee, GOP members still could not reconcile themselves to the prospect that undocumented immigrants might one day become full-fledged Americans.  Instead, they groped for some probationary status — a legal limbo — into which 11 million people, many of whom have already lived in the United States for a decade or more, might be indefinitely slotted. Anything to avoid charting a course for what many Republicans regard as the dreaded amnesty.  It’s their own business if Republicans want to continue alienating the nation’s largest and fastest-growing minority. But politics aside, there are powerful economic, moral and practical reasons to embrace an overhaul of the nation’s immigration system that includes eventual citizenship.”
  • Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald Columnist Andres Oppenheimer:  Oppenheimer, a columnist syndicated in both English and Spanish, writes, “creating an underclass of noncitizens is not the solution to the U.S. immigration mess…beyond politics, denying millions of undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship is a bad idea because it would only help kick the problem forward: 10 or 15 years from now, we would have 11 million people and their relatives demanding their right to vote, and to have full rights.  That would be of little help for Republicans to mend fences with Hispanics, would be morally questionable, and would be a recipe for increasing social tensions in the country.”

Prominent Republican & Conservative Voices Endorse Citizenship

  • Rep. Darrell Issa (R-SD): The Chairman of the House Oversight Committee and a member of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Issa yesterday endorsed the Senate immigration framework, which includes a path to citizenship.  According to US News & World Report’s Lauren Fox, Rep. Issa “told reporters Wednesday he can support a pathway to citizenship for some of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. and that he actually prefers it to a plan that would create a second-class of citizens through alternative programs.”  Fox quotes Issa saying, “I support the framework that the bipartisan group of senators are working on…We have to remember the 11 million people who are here are people…[i]t’s what Abraham Lincoln would have said, it is what the Republican Party stands for.  It is the reason we have to get it right on who stays and who goes.”
  • Dr. Richard Land: According to a tweet by Alex Leary, political reporter for the Tampa Bay Times, Southern Baptist Convention leader Dr. Land said in an interview on immigration reform “that anything w/o pathway is ‘non-starter.’”
  • Matthew Staver: The conservative religious leader and dean of Liberty University School of Law writes in a Washington Times op-ed, “There are only three options for addressing undocumented immigrants: deportation, amnesty and a middle, more reasonable alternative that provides an opportunity for earned legal status.  Mass deportation would be impossible and morally wrong.  Amnesty would flout the law.  Let me be clear: I oppose amnesty.  What I do support is providing an opportunity for earned legal status that allows people to come out of the shadows and participate in the American dream.  It should include appropriate penalties, waiting periods, background checks, evidence of moral character and a commitment to full participation in American society through learning English.  Yet for our hardworking, undocumented neighbors who aspire to be fully American, it must end with citizenship — not a permanent second-class status.”

Prominent Democratic & Progressive Voices Endorse Citizenship

  • Rep. Joe Garcia (D-FL): Rep. Garcia is a freshman Rep. from Miami who has been making a compelling case for why stopping short of full citizenship is a terrible idea.  Yesterday, Rep. Garcia spoke with Chuck Todd on MSNBC and noted the dangers of dividing Americans into, “type ‘a’ and type ‘b,’ the ones that get taxed that don’t get representation, the ones that have all the responsibilities but none of the great benefits of being a citizen.  Look, this is precisely where we make a mistake.  If you look at failed immigration systems, you look at the German system, you look at the French system, where people are — don’t become French.  They don’t become German.  They are Turks who live in Germany or Muslims who live in Paris, the reality is we need full Americans.  These folks work hard and take care of our children. they pick our fields.  They work in the most difficult jobs, and what we need to do is make them pay their back taxes and make them learn English and get them in the back of the line and at the end they get the great benefit, bounty and responsibility of being a U.S. Citizen.”
  • Markos Moulitsas: The Daily Kos founder writes, “the House GOP thinks it has found a third way—stop hunting down and deporting undocumented immigrants, but prohibit them from becoming U.S. citizens, hence voting.  This is a popular solution in the conservative punditry as well, thinking it’ll help alleviate their electoral and demographic pain.  But it will do none of that, because the underlying premise is still bigoted and discriminatory—the notion that Latino and Asian immigrants who’ve come to America to build a better life can never be Americans.  And if they’re going to send that message, they might as well just obstruct because that’s not going to win them any immigrant votes.  What’s worse—those legal-but-not-American immigrants will breed, and most will have family and friends who are citizens.  Who vote.”
  • Josh Marshall: The founder of Talking Points Memo highlights the strategy of some Republicans to forge a “compromise” on immigration, which Marshall criticizes as, “creating a second class non-citizenship status for those who want a pathway to real citizenship.”