Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Have We Lost Our Mojo? Revisiting Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR)

I think for the most part supporters of Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) have lost their mojo. To understand what mojo is, and why it's important, I encourage you to watch this short video on YouTube.  I'm not exactly sure what happened, or when, but at some point all mojo powers were zapped from community organizers, congressional leaders, common citizens, stakeholders, and yes - even from President Obama. 

Do you remember when President Obama had major mojo when he ran for president and promised CIR? At some point leaders of the CIR movement found themselves outnumbered and outmaneuvered and they simply threw in the towel.  Before we knew it, proponents of CIR were sitting quietly on the sidelines while the national debate raged on.  Opponents of CIR in the meantime took over the high places in the marketplace of ideas. All of the sudden deporting all 15 million supposedly unlawful immigrants in the U.S. actually sounded like a great and feasible idea.  Our highly organized, effective, articulate, tech-savvy, champions of the cause that inspired thousands of people to take to the streets were left neutralized - mourning and lamenting what could have been.  

It is time for our leaders to rise to the occasion and bring some clarity to the table by explaining why CIR is good for the United States, who will benefit, under what conditions, and what's in it for our country, our communities, for the American worker - from Joe the Plumber to the investment banker in Wall Street.  We need to articulate what CIR will do to enhance: 
  • Border security to stop the flow of undocumented people from crossing the border.
  • Providing tools to employers to ensure employment eligibility and sanction those employers who knowingly employ unauthorized workers. 
  • Removal of serious criminal offenders and enforcement of immigration laws consistent with the government's immigration enforcement priorities and resources. 
These are legitimate concerns that we ignore at our own peril. They must be part of a sensible solution to reform our immigration laws.  So far the arguments from both sides have left much to be desired and have been plagued with missed opportunities to create a feasible road map where both sides can meet half way. On the one hand we have some calling for the immediate deportation of all "illegal aliens" and on the other side we have some calling for complete open borders with no restrictions.   I think both sides can meet somewhere in the middle.  I say we get back to the basics - let's re initiate the conversation.  I think (for the most part) both sides have very reasonable concerns that are better addressed by sitting together to discuss these issues in an informed, honest, and constructive manner. 

Regaining the territory lost will require some major mojo power - but I think it can be done. By being informed of the issues and understanding what's at stake, proponents of CIR should have a well-reasoned and articulate defense of CIR when making their voices heard.  The election cycle coming up in 2012 will give us a fresh opportunity to retake this cause.