LOS ANGELES — The heated national debate over Arizona’s tough new immigration law has drawn much-needed attention to calls for immigration reform, but it also has obscured the fact that there is “actual common ground” among Americans on “key elements” of reform, says to Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles.
The cardinal listed five elements that he said when presented to Americans elicited more agreement than he expected.
He said those elements are: the responsibilities of countries of origins of immigrants; a need for more secure borders; a balance between the need for workers and the supply of workers; agriculture jobs; and the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or the DREAM Act. The proposed measure would allow children of undocumented immigrants brought to the United States at an early age to become legal residents and qualify for in-state tuition.
Cardinal Mahony said the one area that “creates sharp divisions among us” is a discussion of the path those currently in this country illegally can take toward legal residency, he said.
Some Americans see any method to help people legalize their status as amnesty, commonly defined, he noted, as “a general pardon,” or “a forgetting or overlooking of any past offense.”
But immigrant advocates are not proposing a “general pardon, forgetting or overlooking of the past without penalty or stringent obligations,” he explained. “Immigrants here without permission would be required to pay for their transgression and ‘get right’ with the law, then earn their way toward eventual citizenship. This is not amnesty.
“There is no excuse for inaction on what is perhaps the country’s most pressing social problem -- all-inclusive immigration reform.”