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A path to citizenship is not a handout

John Moore, Getty Images

John Moore, Getty Images

In a recent Latino Decisions poll, Latino voters spoke up and gave a very big thumbs down to the GOP’s plan to address immigration without providing those affected with a path to citizenship.

According to the poll, most Latino voters prefer bipartisan reform options that include a path to citizenship, enhanced border security, employment verification, requiring undocumented immigrants to study English and pass a background check before they can become legal citizens.

The current legislation being presented by House Republicans is being perceived by many Latinos as a “piecemeal” approach to solving the immigration problem rather than making the critical changes that are needed for true reform. In June, the GOP pushed the SAFE Act through the House which some believe to be highly discriminatory and may inevitably lead to increased racial profiling.

Action in the House is on hold until after Congress returns from its recess on Sept. 9. The five-week break could be helpful in determining the legislation’s fate. Representatives plan to hold town hall meetings to gauge the feelings of their constituents on this hot-button issue.

Latino voters themselves are all U.S. citizens but many know one or more undocumented immigrant personally. Some are even likely to have friends or family members who have been detained by immigration authorities or, worse still, deported. Even though Latino voters (who typically favor a conservative approach to government and policy) might agree with GOP lawmakers on issues regarding life, marriage, or religion, many are leery of voting for a candidate that may potentially deport those they care about.

DREAMers are the ones likely to be harshly affected by the Republican legislation and they expressed themselves by hand-delivering cantaloupes to 224 members of Congress. The deliveries targeted those that voted along with Iowa Republican Steve King for an amendment that would defund the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) Program and lead to the deportation of a great number of young, undocumented people. King was quoted as saying that undocumented youth were more likely to be drug smugglers with “calves the size of cantaloupes” from hauling marijuana bales than to be high achieving students.

The socially conservative GOP should realize that they would garner more support in the next election from Latinos by creating and supporting immigration reform that is fair and compassionate. A true path to citizenship is what most Latino voters and undocumented immigrants want. They aren’t looking for handouts or for things to be simplified for their benefit. This is a country full of immigrants and most are hardworking individuals who want a better life for their families and themselves. Treating them respectfully and providing a way for them to legally contribute to our country will benefit everyone in the long run.


By Being Latino Contributor, Valeka.

About Adriana Villavicencio

Dr. Adriana Villavicencio is the youngest child of Ecuadorian immigrants. She has moved 29 times in her life, taking her on a journey from California to Bangalore, India, and New York City, where she recently earned a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and works as a Research Associate at New York University. An avid traveler, Adriana has collected experiences in four different continents and 16 different countries. But as a former high school English teacher, some of her fondest memories are those of her brilliant and brilliantly funny students in Brooklyn and Oakland. Adriana has contributed to several publications including the Daily News and, and is a managing editor for the Journal of Equity in Education. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English Education at Columbia University, and currently serves on the board of Columbia’s Latino Alumni Association (LAACU). She enjoys scary movies with red vines, Sauvignon Blanc, and her Maltese dog, Napoleon.

To learn more about Adriana’s education consulting company, please visit

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.

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