Immigrants Yearn to Be Americans, Not a Permanent Underclass

Immigrants Yearn to Be Americans, Not a Permanent Underclass

"This idea of denying citizenship to 11 million people -- a population the size of Ohio -- goes to the heart of who we are as a nation. ... So, let's consider what such an approach would mean for the nation's soul.  A policy that grants work permission but not a way to earn citizenship would require Congress to affirmatively and intentionally institutionalizes a permanent sub-class of non-citizens.  The message to this group of mostly Latino immigrants would be this: you are good enough to cook for us, clean for us and take care of our children, but you can never become one of us -- let alone vote or be seen as truly equal.  A policy that says "you are permanently one of them and can never be one of us" does violence to our nation's core values. ... A policy that demands immigrants remain a permanent second class -- that they get to the back of the bus, and stay there -- is not worthy of America today.  It harkens back to eras in which entire populations were excluded from the "cherished fruits of citizenship."  It would be a tragic step back to institute policies today that, at a minimum, evoke moral tragedies that have left a blot on America's history -- from slavery, to Jim Crow laws, to segregation; from the Chinese Exclusion Act, to the detention of Japanese Americans in World War II, to the roundup of Muslim Americans after 9/11; from denying workers the right to organize, to denying women the right to vote, to denying LGBT families the right to equality. ... There are numerous policy, political and practical reasons to say no to a "let them work but not be citizens" immigration policy.  But before we even have to go there, it should be obvious that telling 11 million people in America that they can never be Americans is inconsistent with who we are and who we want to be." - Frank Sharry, Mar. 7, 2013.