As I wrote earlier, I spent the morning at the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Hearing on Family Based Immigration. It was a thoroughly exciting debate that cut to the heart of the debate and I came back with a head full of reflections.
When I walked into the hearing room this morning, the first question front and foremost on my mind was : Why are we even having a hearing on family based immigration? The answer quickly became apparent. A certain faction within the Republican party is interested in ending family based immigration to the US, and in order to do so Rep. Gingrey of Georgia (already known for it’s intolerant, anti-immigrant state legislation) has introduce HR 938 – The Family Destruction Act (or known to him as the Nuclear Family Priority Act). This bill would limit the scope of family-based immigration to the “nuclear” family and to children under the age of 21.
Though Rep. Gingrey, Rep. King (ranking member on the subcommittee) and other Republican members on the committee attempted to defend this legislation, the Democrats led by Rep. Lofgren and the other witnesses- Dr. Duplee, Dr. Hing, and Mr. Anderson made it clear that this legislation is anti-american, unworkable, and simply WRONG for our country.
Mr. Conyers summed up the argument best in his opening remarks- quoting Rep. King- families are the backbone of this country- and supporting family-based immigration is not simply about charity- it’s good for America. Different immigrants come here for different reasons, and the motivation to build up one’s family is an increidbly useful motivation that America must harness and use as a foundation on which to continue to build our country. All stressed that families provide stability, values, and lead to stronger, healthier communities for all.
Dr. Duplee noted that family-based migration tends NOT to compete with american born labor, but complements it- creating new jobs and opportunities for us all. With the help of family based immigration we have seen a 100% increase in the number of latino-based small businesses in the US. This is a huge boom for our metropolitan and rural areas alike that thrive because of the community structure and business that immigrants bring.
United immigrant families create strong communities that in turn give back to us all. What is the highest grossing neighborhood in Chicago for city tax revenue? Well Michigan Avenue, the major shopping district, is number one, but number two is 26th street, a major latino neighborhood. Third place? Lawrence Ave in the Korean district. Why in the world would we pass a bill that not only destroys families but cripples the very communities that are “the backbone” of our country.
Witness after witness gave testimony that family based migration leads to an increase in jobs, revenue and local businesses, enables immigrants to lead better lives, and it strengthens our country. Dr. Hing put it best when he said that our nation loves to debate immigration policy- but we should NOT be debating families.