Jorge G. Castañeda wrote a powerfully truthful op-ed on immigration in Saturday’s New York Times. In it he spelled out the cruelty of our immigration system as it stands under the Bush administration, saying:
Since late 2006, the Bush administration has been carrying out the “tough love” side of immigration reform without the generous and open-arms side, which would mean legalization for those in the United States today, and a migrant worker program for those it will need tomorrow.
It has pursued a humiliating and hostile policy of persecution and harassment of illegal Mexicans, Guatemalans, Salvadorans, Hondurans and many others. It changed the rules of the game without any warning or empathy, nor with the traditional understanding the United States has shown, more often than not over the past century, in regard to those who cross its borders without papers.
In a concise article, Castañeda both condemns the inhumane cycle of raids and detentions, and urges President-elect Obama to immediately move to stop the hunting of immigrants.
After his inauguration, Mr. Obama could put an end to all of this by suspending the raids, detentions and deportations. He should return to the approach followed by all of his predecessors until 2006: stop illegal entrants at the border when possible, but refrain from hunting them down once they cross the border.
He also doesn’t ignore one of the thornier immigration subjects: states that have taken immigration enforcement into their own hands.
[Obama] cannot, obviously, erase aggressive local ordinances in states like Arizona and Oklahoma. But he can initiate or hasten the federal government’s challenge to their constitutionality
Castañeda is absolutely right, we need to speed up the accountability process for people like Sheriff Arpaio, who is carrying out gross human rights violations in Phoenix.
This is the kind of rational, humane approach needed to realistically address immigration. Obama should listen to him.