Friday, October 05, 2007

Profiles in Cowardice

By Joan Suarez

The failed attempt by the U.S. Senate to address immigration reform dealt a huge blow to a country that has waited over two decades for solutions to one of our most pressing national issues.

Of greatest concern is that 53 Senators, including our own Senators, chose to ignore the vast majority of Americans who support a comprehensive solution and instead gave up too soon on the legislative process.

Immigration is an emotionally-charged and complex issue—taking it on requires leadership, courage and putting aside partisan politics. And there was a courageous bipartisan group of Senators that tried to craft legislation to bring both parties to the table. The Senate bill was far from perfect, but legislators knew the bill had to go through the House of Representatives and a Conference Committee, where outstanding issues could still be ironed out.

That is the most alarming aspect of the immigration debate—the politics of fear and hate. Groups at the local level working with immigrant communities are all too familiar with it. They have received hate mail and threats, seen swastikas sprayed on windows, and experienced the backlash that renders whole communities suspect and obscures the path to sound policy-making.


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