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Bloggings: The CIR Battle Continues: Over-optimism, Sober Reality and Some Comic Relief. By Roger Algase

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Because legalizing 11 million unauthorized immigrants, reducing legal immigration backlogs and making more skilled worker visas available are such compelling goals from the humanitarian, racial justice and economic points of view, and have such wide public support, it is tempting to downplay the obstacles to passage of CIR.


Not only are the moral and practical arguments for CIR so strong, but so are the political ones. Even normally anti-immigrant Republicans learned their lesson in the 2012 election: accept the reality of America's growing racial diversity, or face political extinction.


Therefore, it might seem to make sense to look on the Congressional obstacles to CIR as only growing pains which will somehow inevitably be worked out in the interests of America's future, and to focus instead on analyzing the details of what the Brave New World of CIR will look like.


Certainly, this is valuable and important. We all need to know what is in the CIR bill, especially after all the amendments which have been adopted in committee. But a healthy dose of caution is also in order.


In discussing reform, we should not overlook the essential word: "if".


Merely because something is right and has strong public support does not mean that it will get through Congress. Just as the NRA defeated gun control, the old, familiar anti-immigrant groups and their Congressional supporters present a serious danger to CIR. 


Nor is it at all certain that America is entirely ready to abandon the anti-immigrant racism which has been part of this country's culture ever since the time of Benjamin Franklin, when America was still a British colony.


Therefore, not out of undue pessimism, but in the spirit of reality, let us look carefully at where CIR actually stands in Congress as of this writing on the morning of Tuesday, June 11.


First, the House. Even the most confirmed optimists describe the chances of passage of CIR in that Republican-controlled chamber as "uncertain" at best, despite Speaker John Boehner's recent promise to start work on moving a reform bill through. (See Politico: John Boehner begins to sketch immigration plan, June 9).


"Appalling" might be a better word than "uncertain" however. How can a House which has just passed an amendment to deport all DREAMERS be expected suddenly to turn around and pass any meaningful form of CIR?


Even if Republican members in both chambers were not predicting that any Senate CIR bill would be Dead on Arrival in the House, the prospects for reform's passage in that body are less than auspicious.


Turning to the Senate, the Huffington Post's June 10 article: Marco Rubio Lobbies On Immigration Reform Behind The Scenes is not overly encouraging either.


It describes in detail how Senate Gang of Eight Member and key CIR supporter Marco Rubio is urgently trying to push the current CIR bill to the right, especially on Border Security (BS) in order to attract the right wing support which will be needed for passage, but is by no means assured.


But while a healthy sense of caution is decidedly in order in discussing the chances of passage for CIR, the situation is not entirely without humor.


It also appears that the anti-immigrant lobby, having failed to gain traction by shouting "amnesty" as was the case in 2007, or by using arguments based on the imaginary cost of legalization (thanks to Jason Richwine), or Boston Marathon bombings, is now trotting out an anti-immigrant warhorse from the distant past, namely "Assimilation". See, Politico: 'Assimilation' a flash pojnt in immigration debate, June 10.


Certainly, "assimilation" is a wonderful word. For those of us who are old enough to remember Leonard Bernstein's famous musical Candide, it is also the subject of his catchy, ironic song: "I am easily assimilated."


But the idea that immigrants are unwilling or unable to learn English and assimilate to American society has always been little more than a myth, with a heavy dose of racism thrown in.


Many of today's immigrants are from English speaking countries (such as in the Caribbean), or from countries where English is taught in school from an early age and is widely used (such as India and the Philippines).


Many of the DREAMERS whom House Republicans are so anxious to deport speak English as their first language and know no other culture than America's.


Anyone who is genuinely concerned about "assimilation" should support both legalization and a pathway to citizenship. If we allow 11 million people to come out of the shadows of fear and despair, their assimilation will be guaranteed without fail.











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