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Giving thanks

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With Thanksgiving upon us our thoughts turn to that for which we should be grateful in the immigration spectrum. Admittedly, it’s been a year in which it’s sometimes hard to dwell on the good when it has been filled with lack of immigration reform, incessant and painful immigration raids and a sense of hopelessness. However, as we sit with family and friends this Thanksgiving, let us dwell not on the negative but rather on the” positive”. The positive includes the following:

1. The eight years of the Bush administration will end soon. America’s position in the world has an opportunity to change for the better; it would certainly be hard for it to change for the worst.

2. America, for the first time, has elected a non-white male as president, a “person of color”. Is prejudice and discrimination a thing of the past? Sadly, no but in our choice of our President, the first African American, we, the people, have made a clear statement: The color of a person’s skin will be noted but we are capable of looking beyond color when it really matters.

3. Our new President knows the power of hate and fully understands that if America is to regain its moral footing in the world, racial and ethnic hate cannot be tolerated.  As someone who knows first hand the sting of discrimination and hate, he will not tolerate the killing of a young Mexican male in Hazelton or the killing of a young Ecuadorian in New York simply because they were “different” by virtue of their accent, country of national origin, or legal status in this country. The future Obama administration will truly be an administration where there is “No Place for Hate”. He will not allow a Suffolk County, New York public official to fan the flames of hatred over an ethnic killing. Instead, he will take pains to extinguish those flames.

4. The democrats now control Congress, headed by a democratic President in charge who understands the need for comprehensive immigration reform. Our new President, in his choice of Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano as the head of Homeland Security, the agency in charge of, among other things, immigration, has, in the words of the Immigration Policy Center, “taped a leader with a deft combination of political savvy and policy know-how. As a border governor, Napolitano has been in the eye of the immigration storm and has shown that she understands that it in our nation’s interest to not only secure our borders, but also to provide for a realistic and practical immigration system that is in tune with our country’s economic needs. Napolitano has been a leading voice for comprehensive immigration reform, including improving border security measures and a system to bring undocumented immigrants ‘out of the economic shadow’”.

4. Congress has introduced several immigration bills, one in particular to deal with the huge immigrant visa backlogs which force families to remain separated for years because of long immigrant visa waiting lists. One such bill seeks to “recapture” unused visa numbers that are, in essence, thrown out at the end of the year because the USCIS is unable to allocate them before the fiscal immigration year ends on September 30th.

As we sit at our Thanksgiving tables this year, hopefully surrounded by friends and family, let us dwell on the good—the possibilities of change—that will allow those family members who, because of immigration quotas and laws, are unable to join us this year or who perhaps eat their Thanksgiving dinner in fear, always with an eye on the door and an ear towards the knock of ICE on that same door, to join us or to remain with us next year at this same time.. Let us hope and pray that  we will, as a united America, be able to work together to solve the huge and unending economic crisis that impacts and frightens us all so that we can turn our thoughts and energies to immigration reform.

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