January 5, 2014

CEPEDA: A path to immigration compromise?


Legal permanent residents have the right to unrestricted equal employment — even in many federal jobs — due process and, in some jurisdictions, permission to vote and hold public office at the local level. They just can’t vote in federal elections or hold federal elective office.

And on the topic of civic participation, one need only look at the largely successful national campaigns by “undocumented and unafraid” immigrants to know that voting isn’t the only way to participate, vigorously, in America’s political process.

Legal permanent residents can persuade others to vote for any office, canvass, make campaign contributions, and volunteer and raise money for candidates and political organizations. They can also contact their officials and the media, and they can protest, petition and boycott.

Mexicans know this — they represent the largest percentage of legal permanent residents (25.4 percent) and the largest percentage of those who are eligible to naturalize (31.1 percent), according to DHS. But their rate of naturalization — 36 percent — is only half that of legal immigrants from all other countries combined, according to an early 2013 analysis by Pew.

The immigrant advocacy groups, politicians and other parties who are invested in immigration reform solely for the purpose of creating a perpetual Democrat-leaning voting bloc are both cynical and misguided.

They have been playing high-stakes poker by pushing citizenship-only plans on Republicans who fundamentally disagree with bestowing the cherished right of citizenship on people who broke laws in order to come to this country -- and then demonizing such lawmakers for not compromising.

And, so far, these activists and their supporters have been winning. Poll after poll shows that immigrants and other minorities tend to look upon Republicans as people who are intolerant of them based solely on country of origin, skin color or native language.

The losers? They’re the car washers, dishwashers, busboys, maids, nannies, physical laborers and other immigrants who aren’t reading political blogs all day and don’t understand that their protectors are setting them up for an all-or-nothing political confrontation that has so far yielded nothing.

Compromise already! Ditch the politics, legalize the 11.7 million who aren’t a threat to their communities or national security, secure the border and let’s move on.

Esther Cepeda’s email address is Follow her on Twitter, @estherjcepeda.

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