Written by Gabriela Monico
Historically, immigration and citizenship policies have reflected ideas about who is deemed worthy of inclusion as a fully humanized member of society, entitled to fundamental rights and privileges. As early as the drafting of the U.S. Constitution full citizenship rights were limited to white male property owners while excluding women, Native Americans, poor whites, and African Americans. Legislation would go onto exclude any immigration from Asia and place quotas on other countries, while favoring immigration from Western Europe. Although a modern system of immigration policies has been in place since the enactment Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, it is still hostile to the admission of certain groups of immigrants, including unskilled workers.
In addition to stringent immigration laws, immigrant communities have fought back against the devastating impact of rising nativism and enforcement (i.e. SB1070 in Arizona). Much of this energy has been spent combating the policies of the Obama administration itself, which has been deporting a record average of 400,000 people per year since 2009. This has resulted in a renewed push for immigration reform since the 2012 Presidential election in which Obama overwhelmingly received the vote of Latinos and Asians, in part because he was seen as more moderate on immigration policy than his rival
In the next 40 years minorities are projected to become a majority of the population in the United States. 1 out of 3 Americans will be a Latino. This poses interesting questions about the political power of minorities and it brings into new focus the issue of 11.1 million undocumented people in the US, the vast majority who are either Latino or Asian, many of whom have built roots here. Finding a solution for the undocumented population is critical at this historical juncture.
While the bill recently introduced by the ‘gang of 8’ seeks to deal with the broken immigration system and may be a step in the right direction, it poses limitations and does not fully address the issue. At this point in time, given that the bill is back on the table, it is very important for us as a community to step it up and push for a just, inclusive and humane immigration bill.
If you have not yet gotten involved, please consider attending the May 1st march in your area. There is power in numbers, so your presence makes a difference!
Below you will find information about San Francisco and Oakland marches:
3pm, Fruitvale BART Plaza
3pm, 24th and Mission