NJ Democratic Senator Robert Menendez has announced that he will introduce a “comprehensive” immigration reform bill as early as tonight. Though we won’t know all the details of the bill until it is introduced, it will most likely look a lot like the proposal announced by Senator Schumer (D-NY) this spring, which offered limited avenues for legalization in exchange for increased border enforcement and criminalization of immigrants. Though the bill is not expected to pass this year, Menendez says it’s a matter of good policy:
“If you look at all of the polls, overwhelmingly, people want to see a resolution of the problem. They want to see our system reformed,” Menendez told POLITICO Tuesday. “So clearly, you see the difference between those who are willing to move forward and get a reform and [those who are] not, and for the Hispanic community, clearly they understand who stands on their side and [who does] not.”
But the move has been criticized as a ploy to regain the support of Latino voters who are angry about Obama’s failed promise of immigration reform coupled with rising rates of deportation and family separation.
Adding to this view is the fact that Congressional Democrats so easily joined forces to push through a major border spending bill yet have shown little effort towards pushing for CIR. Meanwhile, the administration has not let up on deportations and family separations and Obama has not put his efforts behind a major immigration overhaul as he did with healthcare reform.
Ultimately, if we are to see a serious effort for CIR that fixes our broken immigration system and upholds human rights and dignity, it will be a result of the immigrant rights movements increased power and influence through broadening our use of popular education, creating inclusive and broad analysis, and the development of creative tactics. Such a change in direction of the movement will not come from the DC-based organizations, who are already offering support for the Menendez bill without knowing all of its particularities. Inspiration needs to come from past social movements and the current DREAM movement, that has been able to force the DREAM Act onto the national scene through education and creative tactics.