To the editor:
With immigration reform once again front and center on the political stage, Democrats and moderate Republicans, the few that still exist, have an opportunity to finish the job that GW Bush, John McCain, and Ted Kennedy tried to do nearly a decade ago.
Their joint efforts were sandbagged by the most extreme, right wing, overwhelmingly white, and, yes, xenophobic, elements of the GOP, and their enablers in the media like Bill O’Reilly, Lou Dobbs, and Jay Severin. But the tide has turned and a majority of the American people have turned against the Tea Party right wingers who, just a short time ago, seemed to be the ascendant force, not just in the Republican party, but in national politics.
A recent Associated Press poll showed 62 percent of Americans now favor a “path to citizenship” for undocumented immigrants whose only offense is their undocumented status. Interestingly, as support for a “path to citizenship” has grown, support for right wing groups and politicians who oppose it has declined marketedly.
For example, another AP poll showed the Tea Party, whose right wing members are vocal opponents of a “path to citizenship,” is now viewed unfavorably by nearly two thirds of the American people. The group’s approval rating hovers at about 30 percent, while its disapproval rate in in the high 60s.
Even the Republican Party, whose leadership thought they could ride the back of the angry far-right tiger in their midst to their political advantage, has recognized what a liability the extremism of groups like the Tea Party and so called Minutemen has become to its long term political future, especially at the national level.
Nothing exemplifies that reality more than the schism that has emerged within the GOP since the election debacle in November, and not just on the issue of immigration. Since the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” in the Senate put forth its blueprint to reform immigration, numerous Tea Party House members have come out and called “a path to citizenship” “toxic”, “unacceptable”, “dead on arrival”, and worse.
Liberals need to do all we can to keep these people and their followers talking, posting, writing LTE’s, or whatever — because the more they spew their venom on so many issues, the lower their favorability rating goes with ever increasing numbers of Americans.
Tea Party claims the “Gang of Eight” is proposing a form of amnesty are completely bogus. What the “Gang of Eight” has proposed is a lengthy, complex process with very specific standards and milestones that must be met as undocumented immigrants move toward full citizenship — a process that will likely take five years or more from start to finish.
Arguments that the border must be secured before any reform can take place are equally specious. The Obama administration has done more to fortify and secure the border than any recent administration. The border can never be made iron clad, but it is far more secure today than it was four years ago.
It is time for the United States to live up to its noblest ideals and enact just and comprehensive immigration reform and stop letting relatively small but vocal, angry, and bigoted groups like the Tea Party and Minutemen, dominate the discussion and prevent us from doing what’s right.
With 62 percent of Americans now supporting a “path to citizenship,” it looks like we are well on our way, at long last, to doing just that.
Gloucester and Vieques,