Tuesday, August 15, 2006

"Sins" of omission

"My whole focus is the first Tuesday in November."

This is what House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in an interview in the New York Times magazine this weekend. She also mentioned that she was holding an issues conference to discuss "the urgent issues facing our nation, such as Iraq, affordable health care and education."

Why is this important? Immigration reform is nowhere on the list. Pelosi admits in the first quote that the battle for control of Congress is her primary focus at the moment...not resolving immigration reform before the end of this Congressional session.

Sadly the rights of immigrants are not on the list of concerns of the Democratic party. If you look at the websites for the House Democrats and the Democratic Party, immigration is only mentioned in the context of border security. Democrats claim the border is a "mess" because Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress have done little to secure it.

Why is this? Republicans have framed the debate and Democrats are following their lead. On the G.O.P. website, border security gets an entire page. The last round of hearings and their skewed topics get prominence on the left side.

Enforcement-first representatives in Congress are also omitting important aspects of the immigration reform debate. Nowhere do they discuss the numerous benefits that immigrants bring to the United States, the basic human rights of immigrants, the root cause of immigration or the effect of deportation on families and U.S. citizen children.

Interestingly the only discussion of "comprehensive immigration reform" (as defined these days in Washington as enforcement paired with legalization) is on the White House's website. Yet even here, Bush sees the need to follow his colleagues and talk the talk on border security.

What do these omissions mean? Election fever has taken over in Washington and "border security" talk is one of many campaign tactics. Perhaps the omissions are the death knell for immigration reform in this Congressional session.

ACTION STEP: Send an e-mail to your senators or representatives in the House and tell them to get back to the work of creating true reform. More border security is not the answer. Using this as merely a hot button issue for the campaign is not appropriate when millions of future voters are looking to Washington for true leadership.