With all of the rhetoric and political maneuvering likely to occur in the coming days, weeks and months on the issue of immigration reform legislation, it is important for all of those involved to remember that in the end this issue is first and foremost one of human rights; any external requirements beyond those that can be met solely by the candidate for citizenship should not be included as a condition for earned citizenship in the bill.
Of particular note is a Senate republican requirement of a special panel to be commissioned to determine if the border is secure to an arbitrary level of satisfaction before the 11 million estimated men, women and children who are in the United States illegally may begin their process towards earned citizenship. No specifics have been made on exactly who would be on this panel or what the panel’s guidelines or indicators would for acceptance. Such a lack of detail is a recipe for a stalling of progress on immigration reform and its path for earned citizenship. Will the panel contain members who share similar views with Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who, despite the data, will most likely never be convinced that our borders are at their most secure levels in decades and perhaps even at their most secure levels in the history of the country? Such questions so far remain unanswered.
In any event, even if a fair and impartial panel with well-defined objectives and parameters is assembled, to place an individual’s rights to pursue his or her goals and dreams completely in the hands of others is a travesty of the ideals of human rights for which this nation, though not always achieving, continually strives.
Furthermore, while a fair and just means for earning citizenship is acceptable, there should be no citizenship determiner which brings about either a real or even a perceived notion of national servitude. A prime example of this is a past proposal by some conservatives that all capable undocumented immigrants applying for citizenship should be required to serve in the military. Such a requirement is a clear violation of an individual’s rights and liberty, harkening back to the days of impressment and indentured servitude, and is morally and ethically wrong in our modern society.
Effective immigration reform needs to be passed quickly; every day that passes without it creates an ever increasing number of potential and real abuses to undocumented workers by corporations fully willing to take advantage of the shadow economy which the invisible status of these workers creates. However, we must be sure that first and foremost the people whom such legislation affects are treated with the unalienable human rights due every person regardless of their present citizenship status.