Friday, June 8, 2007

Senate Stalls on Immigration

Yesterday the Senate process stalled. On Wednesday and Thursday I watched our nation's leaders dissolve into partisanship and hurt egos. Many senators complained about their amendment not yet being heard when there were still 14 amendments ahead of them. It's like whining that you can't get a drink and you're not being given a turn when there are 14 people in line ahead of you at the drinking fountain.

I appreciated Senate Majority Leader Harry Ried trying to rein it all in on both sides. His goal was to get both sides to discuss which amendments they felt were most important and narrow the over 300 amendments to 5 on each side. Then the Senate could have voted on those amendments and moved to a vote on the bill.

Many senators on the floor seemed to have lost a sense of urgency about the bill. They appeared to think more about elections and how to spin their votes on amendments and cloture than about the 67% of Americans (75% of whom are Republicans p2) who agree with the need for comprehensive reform which includes a path to legalization for the undocumented. Nor were they considering business' need for labor, laborers' need for a level playing field, and the immigrants themselves.

Both parties appear to be confused and divided on the issue of immigration because the issue requires examination of racism and the history of oppression in this country, market forces, labor rights, family values, religious beliefs about the humanity of all persons, national security issues linked with fear and democracy.

The compromise bill attempted to address all these issues. Compromise doesn't make anyone fully satisfied. There were parts of this bill which I believed to be terrible, but I harbored hope. However, the spectacle of Thursday revealed that even some of the negotiators decided ideology trumps reality, constituents and country. Narrow ideologies will not give birth to a solution for those here without documentation and for our communities.

One day we'll have whole communities and families. One day we'll all work with the same rights and ability to bargain with our employers. One day all will be able to express individual culture without fear. One day everyone will be valued equally while being recognized fully for who they are and all parts of their identity.

That day was not today. So the work continues to speak out at every opportunity and to listen and to learn more and to march and to write and to offer sanctuary and friendship and receive those back.

That day was not today. But we are not where we were years ago. The movement is stronger and so is each member. We can support each other and the wisdom and growth of the movement will carry us all forward.

That day was not today. So as allies, we must come together and be ready. Ready for new tasks and new forms of support. We can work to connect and make new alliances and continue to grow and make our own work better and more accountable to those we are standing with.

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