A labor organizer, a preacher and a conservative lobbyist walk into a bar.
They order beverages of their choice and they agree: America – in the age of the coming New Majority – deserves a new, more common-sense immigration process.
This isn’t a joke. This is the new consensus on immigrants and America that is sweeping across our country – a consensus no political leader will be able to ignore.
People who hold a Bible, wear a badge or own a business are all stepping forward and acknowledging that our politics around immigration are stuck in the mud and that America deserves a new, forward-looking immigration process.
Traditional immigrant advocates are essential to building the necessary momentum for political change, and their ranks are growing and transcending race and culture.
In Alabama, luminary activists and leaders in organized labor like SEIU’s Eliseo Medina marched side-by-side with Latino and immigrant rights activists from Selma to Montgomery to protest the nation’s toughest immigration law. Elsewhere in the country, civil rights advocates have responded powerfully to draconian measures targeting immigrants.
The support and engagement of the immigrant, labor and civil rights community is central for shining light on the immigration issue. But, after too many moments when this broadening coalition thought we tasted immigration reform victory only to see it slip away, we know that we also need the support of nontraditional allies from across the aisle.
Powerful new allies have emerged in the calls for a common-sense immigration process from our nation’s evangelical, law enforcement and business community.
Faith leaders like Dr. Richard Land from the Southern Baptist Convention see immigration through the lens of a moral obligation to care for those in need and keep families together. Law enforcement officials want to focus on public safety – not on immigration enforcement. And business leaders seek an immigration system that helps their bottom lines and allows them to innovate rather than enforce immigration laws.
Evangelical leaders took a big step forward in June, coming together in Washington to announce the formation of an Evangelical Immigration Table. Their statement of principles for immigration reform sent a clear message to Congress and the Obama administration: No matter where we stand on other issues, we stand together in support of an immigration process that treats people humanely.
Meanwhile, regional summits have brought local and state law enforcement, business and faith leaders together to go beyond harsh rhetoric and urge federal action. From the Mountain West to the Southeast – and in October in the Midwest, where Americans for Tax Reform president, Grover Norquist, is slated to give a keynote speech – leaders are sharing ideas and urging action that serves the interests of every American family.
The highly partisan election-year environment in Washington has drowned out calls for progress – no surprise there. Finding these rational conversations about immigration has meant looking well beyond Washington.
But when leaders from the regional summits gather in the nation’s capital in December, the new voices in the choir will make plain to both Republicans and Democrats that we must get immigration right, for our economy and our communities.
The message to Congress will be clear: There is a new consensus on immigrants and America, and we expect whoever wins in November to represent that consensus. New Americans whose family stories begin in countries around the world are joining with those who have been here for generations. The politics of immigration are changing, and being American is based on values, not appearance.
To bring our immigration system into the modern age will require all Americans joining together to create, yes, momentum that is undeniable. A majority of lawmakers, no matter their party, will realize that good immigration policy can make good politics – and that freedom, hard work and keeping families together are values new Americans and people who were born here hold in equally high esteem.
By forging a new consensus, we are doing our best to ensure that when Congress next considers honest-to-goodness reform, we will have the voices and votes to get across the finish line.
Tags: America, civil rights advocates, evangelical, Evangelical Immigration Table, immigration, immigration reform, immigration rights, politics,