Attorney Alfredo Estrada’s opinion on immigration reform was recently published in The Times of Northwest Indiana. We’ve included it below, but you can also see it on nwitimes.com: GUEST COMMENTARY: A beacon of liberty through comprehensive immigration reform
As our nation celebrates its independence, I reflect upon my family history and how the United States became our home, especially in light of the current dialogue on immigration. Undoubtedly, the time is now for comprehensive immigration reform.
George W. Bush said, “It says something about our country that people around the world are willing to leave their homes and leave their families and risk everything to come to America. Their talent and hard work and love of freedom have helped make America the leader of the world … America remains a beacon of liberty and the most hope filled society this world has ever known.”
This statement is true regardless of which political party is in power or the current political rhetoric on the issue. As frustrations grow and rhetoric intensifies, there is enough blame to pass to on each side of the political aisle for the current situation with our immigration policy. Each party has failed to pass a comprehensive immigration bill, leading to the current state at the southern border, backlogs in immigration court and a fundamentally outdated immigration system that fails the needs of this country and fails to recognize outside influences.
The cornerstone of any real immigration reform is the recognition that undocumented immigration matters for all Americans, for the rule of law, for the trust between our government and national community, and for immigrants themselves. Therefore, it is in the nation’s interest that immigration enforcement and fairness are the bedrock of any real immigration reform. Those claims will have to be taken seriously if we are to reverse and further avoid the current immigration chaos.
Thus, a bipartisan effort of true comprehensive immigration reform should be of top priority and should, as John F. Kennedy said, “be generous; it should be fair; it should be flexible. With such a policy we can turn to the world, and to our own past, with clean hands and clear conscience.” Clean hands and clear conscience are standards that currently are not being met.
Fair, generous and flexible comprehensive immigration reform must include the following:
- A pathway to citizenship for Dreamers.
- Updating the LIFE Act (245(i) adjustment), which enables certain individuals who are physically present in the United States to pay a penalty and adjusted status in the United States.
- A transfer of current Immigration Courts from the Department of Justice to a separate Article 1 Immigration Court with a trial and an appellate division.
A repeal of 8 U.S.C. § 1325, thus ending family separations and detention of children.
- Strengthening and funding the security our borders and ports of entry in a humane way.
I wonder if Congress can ever address our current outdated immigration system in a fair and flexible manner which allows our nation to have clean hands and a clear conscience. But in order to remain a beacon of liberty where we recognize that Americans descend from all over the world, Congress must act and pass a comprehensive immigration reform.