It’s Super Bowl weekend and time for our family to gather and cheer for the “home” team. While we gather for sport, America is approaching a crossroads of epic political proportions with immigration reform imminently at our doorsteps.
We have an extraordinary opportunity to pursue a spirited, honest discussion about who we are, who we are becoming, and who we would like to be as a nation. Most important, we are urged, for some unwillingly, to discuss the broad implications and acceptance of race, culture, ethnicity and language in the complicated DNA strands of America.
Unfortunately, the discourse of immigration has been reduced in recent years to the limitations of our fears of our border security, rather than exposing our true humanity and how our economy revolves around the movement of people. Likewise, the time has passed to “de-Latino-ize” or “de-Hispanicize” our dinner table conversation about immigration and to invite a broader palate of colorful American thoughts on the menu.
It would be a disservice to our end goal to overlook our complex and transforming diversity and attach this public policy issue simply to only one cultural grouping in America’s spectrum.
In addition, our short term memory should tell a crystal story of America’s welcome mat for the unwanted, disregarded, and excommunicated to the shores of Ellis Island or the gates of San Francisco. Our short-term memory should also expose our past import of involuntary servitude in our orchards and plantations that changed America forever.
Most important, there are sectors of our economy over the generations that have been built on the blisters and pouring sweat of immigrants of every color and tongue. Our construction sites. Our farm fields. Our operating rooms. Our restaurants. Our hotel suites. Our courtrooms. The economic impact is undeniable. In fact, we would be foolish to overlook the immediate economic benefit that would be gifted to us in fixing this broken system. It is in trillions. This is something that we must do, not just for one member of the American family, but to solidify our nation for all.
In this regard, no legislation from the desks of the Oval Office, Senate or House should be inked without first laying out a path to an opportunity for residency and subsequent earned citizenship for undocumented members of our community, reducing backlogs for family reunification, establishing an enforceable and respectful border policy, providing opportunities for skilled labor for our recovering economy, and ensuring the safety and security of all in the enforcement of our redefined immigration laws.
This conversation also sends a direct message to the world about who we are and the rules of engagement of our American family. However, let’s be honest that there will be some in this family who will come to this meal kicking and screaming, and others who will simply ignore or boycott the invitation. We must respect their passionate opposition and leave a crack in the door for them to enter when they feel more comfortable or even wish to listen from the outside.
When the debate of the role of government rages in public policy, there may be no greater issue than that of immigration with its numerous tentacles. Let’s be reminded that no one political party has a monopoly on issues or ideas that impact the common good.
We can and will solve this challenge. We need not look any further than the GPS of our own emotions and dreams. In this land of the free and the home of the brave, let’s find the courage to rid ourselves of this roadblock of our ever transforming national self-identity.
We will be a stronger and more inter-connected family with all the differences and similarities expected at a raucous Super Bowl party of rivaling fans. Let’s play some football, together, and maybe we can score a touchdown on immigration and win one for all of America.
Marlon A. Hill is an attorney with the law firm of delancyhill, PA and civic commentator on WZAB 880 AM, Caribbean Riddims, D’ People’s Politics, Saturdays at 4 p.m.