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Congress lags behind the rest of America on immigration

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I’m normally iffy about polls. But the trend charted in this one — and that it comes from such a reputable source — caught my eye:

“According to a new Associated Press-GfK poll, more than 60 percent of Americans favor allowing undocumented immigrants to eventually become U.S. citizens. …

The poll results suggest that the public overall, not just Latinos, will back his efforts. Sixty-two percent of Americans now favor providing a way for undocumented immigrants in the U.S. to become citizens, an increase from just 50 percent in the summer of 2010, the last time the AP polled on the question.

In an even earlier poll, in 2009, some 47 percent supported a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.”

The poll also indicated that a strong number of Americans approve of Pres. Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which protects from deportation 800,000 undocumented immigrants under the age of 30 who entered the country as children and meet other requirements. A full 63 percent of Americans polled said they approved of DACA, which went into effect in mid-August of last year. (Only 20 percent said they flat-out opposed the measure.)

Approval was uneven across the three main political affiliations — Democrat, Republican and independent — with only a minority of Republicans supporting the program.

The news calls to mind a recent conversation I had with a conservative friend of mine who complained that the country’s political posture was shifting to the left. Clearly, she’s right, although it’s not altogether obvious in the federal government.

That’s why it’s of the utmost importance that we, the people, remain actively engaged with our elected representatives in government. With poll numbers like these, one has to wonder why fair and comprehensive reform to the immigration system already behind us.

Why are the politicians gearing up for a debate over immigration that the rest of the country had and apparently settled two years ago? Could it be that some members of Congress are reluctant to Americanize immigrants who are likely to register as Democrats once they receive the right to vote? Who knows.

Support for a fairer immigration system is growing in America, and it’s not because immigrant advocates are masters of public relations. Millions have been spent (and an entire news network has been dedicated) toward the goal of depicting immigration as an invasion of squat, ignorant, un-American, multiplying, job-stealing barbarians from south of the Rio Grande.

Yet, none of it seems to have any effect on the American people, who are still capable of separating right from wrong, justice from injustice.

There are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States at this very moment, and for those who were brought here as children and live in the shadows through no decision of their own, deportation or even further marginalization would be a corruption of the open and multicultural spirit that has made this nation what it is today, the light of the free world.

Fair immigration reform is the only good option there is. The American people know this.

And it’s about time our leaders on Capitol Hill knew it, too.

About Hector Luis Alamo, Jr.

Hector Luis Alamo, Jr., is the associate editor at Being Latino and a native son of Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood. He received a B.A. in history at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where his concentration was on ethnic relations in the United States. While at UIC, he worked first as a staff writer for the Chicago Flame and later became the newspaper's Opinions editor. He contributes to various Chicago-area publications, most notably, the RedEye and Gozamos. He's also a cultural critic for 'LLERO magazine. He has maintained a personal blog since 2007, YoungObservers.blogspot.com, where he discusses topics ranging from political history and philosophy to culture and music.

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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