Our VoiceImmigration

Make Justice Happen in 2010

Jill Garvey • Jan 05, 2010

2010 could be the year that our generation achieves its greatest civil rights victories. As with all things, the possibility of great success comes with the potential for crushing failure. Every activist, social worker, educator, and organizer will have to be at the top of their game to make this year historical and set the pace for years to come.  Here are five things to strive for in 2010:

First, pass immigration reform. Pulling millions of residents out of the shadows will do wonders for our nation. It is imperative that we seize on the opportunity to push for reform that legalizes as many immigrants as possible. The societal problems that stem from a broken immigration system will fester and worsen if we don’t leverage everything we got in favor of a path to citizenship. Some say it’s complex, I say it’s just common sense; stop using taxpayer money to hunt, detain, and deport otherwise law-abiding residents. We’ve got better things to do with our hard-earned money than to terrorize our neighbors. Demand reform and advocate for spending resources to help Americans weather the economic storm.

Second, support immigration reform by supporting health care reform. It ain’t pretty, but the two go hand-in-hand. And frankly, this is exactly what we voted for. So all the “I heart Obama” liberals that crawled into the closet on January 21st (you know who you are), you need to pull your butts out of neutral and get back in the game. Your responsibility as a voter didn’t end at the ballot box.

Third, protect the 14th Amendment. The 14th Amendment defines American liberty by protecting birthright citizenship and upholding equal voting rights. Therefore, it has stood as the cornerstone of equality, and also as a target for those who wish to deny opportunity to all. Those who oppose it are treading on decades of brave civil rights gains. Keeping the 14th amendment intact may be the greatest gift we can provide future generations. With almost 9% of adult African Americans having no way to prove their citizenship, the destruction of the 14th Amendment in an unacceptable blow to Black Americans and native-born children of immigrants alike.

Fourth, confront racism head on. Like deadly bacteria, bigotry grows wherever it goes unchallenged. Hate crimes and organized racism are on the rise just as communities of color are facing some the worst institutional racism and economic challenges in our nation’s history. It is a recipe for disaster. The hateful become more bold as the oppressed become more desperate. It’s scary stuff, but we cannot be afraid to call out racism when we see it. 2009 found racism hiding in the halls of Harvard, the recovery of a great city, and in the hearts of killers. 2010 could be the year that no children die at the hands of hate.

Fifth, promote a person’s right to individual freedom. Over the last few years, America has been all over the map when it comes women’s and LGBTQ rights. Same-sex marriage was banned in California but legalized in Iowa. President Obama reneged on his promises to the gay community, but defied conventional political savvy to appoint a transgender woman to the Commerce Department. A Latina woman, Sonia Sotomayor, was elected to the Supreme Court just as a doctor was gunned down for performing abortions. What the heck is going on? Grown men and women should be able to marry whomever they choose. Women have the right to choose an abortion, and doctors have the right to live to perform them. Period.

After a tragic decade, America is due for a progressive makeover. And now that we’ve established that progress doesn’t magically materialize out of a broken Republican party or a bloated Democratic one, we can get down to the business of real change. Not just change we can believe in, change we can grab onto and ride into the sunset. I’m ready for it, are you?

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