Creating an Inclusive Immigration Process

Today I, along with six other immigration attorneys, attended a most interesting immigration advocacy presentation given by Anu Joshi, the Grassroots Advocacy Associate for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), who flew out all the way from Washington, D.C. to speak to the Santa Clara Valley AILA Chapter on the current state of legislation to fix our broken immigration system.

Today's presentation was a fantastic opportunity to hear from a grassroots expert on how we got to the point of the Senate passing S. 744, the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act" last June, and what the road ahead looks like for Congress to create a commonsense immigration process that recognizes the commitment to our country made by aspiring citizens who moved to the United States to pursue a better life for themselves and their families.

I must admit that I almost did not attend today's wonderful presentation. Why? Well, in recent weeks, my hopes had grown dim for the prospect for Congress to repair the patchwork of laws that, cobbled together in the most tenuous fashion, comprise what we know of our immigration system. With all the other problems Congress has been having lately, it just didn't seem to me that the bill passed by the Senate last June would ever get voted on.

It turns out I needn't have been so pessimistic. Sure, some Republican members of the House of Representatives are facing political pressure not to address the subject of immigration at all. Not because their consciences tell them not to, but because they fear losing their jobs.

Is that fear legitimate? Probably not. After all, the vast majority of Americans support legislation to make America a more inclusive society that dignifies the work and cultural contributions of our friends, neighbors, and co-workers who call America their home. The hopes and dreams of aspiring citizens will surely be validated -- perhaps not in the final weeks of 2013, but certainly before S. 744 expires in January 2015.

There is still plenty of time in the next year to enact immigration laws which will guarantee the economic security and happiness of our great country, where people come to truly be free and to live their lives to their fullest potential. But in order for that to happen, we all need to pitch in, by calling our local Representatives, by lobbying elected officials in our district, by submitting letters to the editor, and by participating in community events, among other things.

I am glad I changed my mind and decided to go hear Ms. Joshi's inspiring presentation. I can now tell my friends not to despair that immigration reform will never happen, but to expect a better, commonsense process for immigration and a roadmap to citizenship that will serve the interests of our country for decades to come.

Timothy D. Widman is a San Jose Immigration Attorney and the owner of the Law Office of Timothy D. Widman.

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