Marcia and Michael Nichols, co-chairs of
AJC's Bridging America Task Force Immigration Summit 2.0.
February 18, 2013
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
Our nation was founded on the inalienable rights of all individuals.
Yet it was a lie we lived under until the Emancipation Proclamation, when American elected leaders had the courage to end that lie. Yet it was a lie until the passage of the 19th Amendment allowing women the right to vote when elected leaders had the courage to end that lie.
Yet it was a lie until the passage of the Civil Rights Act, as courageous elected leaders ended that lie.
It is now time to end another lie and implement comprehensive immigration reform. And again, it will require courage from our elected leaders. Texas leaders from the business, faith, education, legal, social services and health communities support common sense comprehensive immigration reform.
At last year's Immigration Summit, under the auspices of the American Jewish Committee's Bridging America Project, we learned that our failed immigration system was costing Texas billions of dollars. At Immigration Summit 2.0 to be held on Wednesday at the Omni Houston Hotel, the Texas Immigration Compact will be discussed by political leaders and by community experts. The Summit is co-sponsored by many ethnic chambers of commerce, universities and companies.
We believe the Texas Compact, which is composed of principles, not policy or legislation, will be supported by a majority of Texans. Unfortunately, the majority of Texans in Congress are either silent on the immigration issue, hostile to any change, or are hiding behind the "broken border issue." In private, they agree the immigration system must be reformed. But they are afraid to come forward because of fears that this action will cause them to have a primary opponent who will use this issue against them.
We hope the Texas Compact, which brings together business, ethnic, faith and law enforcement officials, will give them the political courage to move forward on fixing our broken system.
We expect that showing will be a major step in convincing our elected leaders to take action. This is what the great majority of Texans want and what is right. The current situation costs taxpayers billions of dollars including lost tax revenue and social services expenditures.
Requiring millions of hard working undocumented immigrants to live in the shadows of our legal, tax and economic structure is immoral and unsustainable.
We know the immigration process is broken and unjust. We know that an unskilled laborer who wishes to immigrate from Mexico and already has a sibling in the U.S. is required to wait decades for a visa.
We must develop a family-oriented, humane immigration policy that significantly expands the opportunities for legal immigration.
A well-regulated flow of immigrants that meets our labor needs helps assure the future of our Social Security system. A policy that unifies families reinforces our national values.
However, for positive change, the U. S. must have an immigration policy built on our values. There must be adequate numbers and varieties of visas available to encourage legal immigration and to enable America to recruit and retain the best global human resources, from India to China to Europe to the Middle East to Latin America.
The various governmental agencies must be adequately funded and staffed to end the backlog of the sometimes hostile, inefficient and inhumane processes for performing background checks on visitors, as well as potential temporary workers and immigrants.
Immigration reform is in keeping with America's unique cultural and historical ties to immigrants from all over the world, as well as our commitment to a fully democratic political system.
Marcia and Michael Nichols are co-chairs of AJC's Bridging America Task Force Immigration Summit 2.0.