Immigration reform has been an ongoing issue for many decades with both US political parties using immigrants as fodder for political purposes. I have previously posted examples of how the Democrats have failed on immigration reform whereas the Republicans have been more open to immigrants in the past. That is, until Donald Trump came into office. The Republicans have allowed a small vocal minority to frame the immigration debate thus creating the illusion that Republicans are anti-immigrants. Further proof of this is Trump’s willingness to deal with DACA in a bipartisan fashion until his core constituency forced him to backpedal, leading to the government shutdown. Yesterday, the Senate voted to end the shutdown by extending temporary funding until February 8.

The Senate deal is based on the promise by Mitch McConnell to hold an open debate on DACA. Although it does not appear that the House has agreed to a similar debate, the February 8 deadline gives the Democrats leverage to force the DACA issue into the open, again through the national budget.

The Democrats, have now come forth and championed the cause of the Dreamers. The Democrats are now leading an immigration reform debate that is good for immigrants, at least for the Dreamers. Although the Republicans carry the stigma of being anti-immigrant, they, for the most part, up until this session have been the only ones to tackle immigration reform prior to the Democrats forcing the issue on DACA the last few days.

Whether the House follows through on DACA, which, if they don’t, would stymie the whole thing, the fact remains that this debate will once again crop up on February 8th as Congress tries to enact a budget.

The Dreamers are living on standby, not knowing if their lives will continue in the US, or in another country before March 5, which is when their temporary status is set to end. That is the fundamental problem that those that argue that immigrants take advantage of the system do not seem to understand, there is no system in place to follow.

There is the fiction that immigrants just need to follow the process and then there is the reality of how broken the process is. Living in limbo is not a process, it is a broken system that has been the basis of immigration to the US for the last few decades.

Forcing the issue of the Dreamers out in the open is the first step in exposing the “follow the law” arguments. It can no longer be ignored. Whether McConnell keeps his word on opening debate on DACA at the Senate is still to be seen, but the issue is out in the open. By February 8, we will know. Likewise, will the House Republicans kill any attempt to bring sense to the immigration policies of the country? By February 8th we will again see.

The temporary solution Congress reached yesterday has put immigration on the forefront in a transparent way. Will the Democrats keep the pressure up? Will the Republicans follow through, or impede progress? It is too soon to tell.

However, I applaud the Democrats for forcing the issue out in the open so that the lies can be exposed, and the reality demonstrated. Although a Dreamer solution may only allow about 1 a million immigrants to benefit, the open debate brings the immigrant issue out to the forefront and away from backdoor temporary deals for political purposes.

An example of the haphazard misuse of the immigrant plight is ObamaCare. Barack Obama promised to deal with immigration reform as one of his cornerstone objectives. However, Obama used most of his political clout to impose ObamaCare on the nation. Obama, simply had no political clout left to muster with the Democrats to deal with the immigration issue.

Even today, Obama remains the president that deported more immigrants than any other president, including Trump. Obama deported immigrants to try and pacify opposition for immigration reform by those arguing border security. Unable to muster his base, Barack Obama did the only thing he could, issue a presidential order creating DACA. Which is the reason we are here today.

Obama many have had his heart in the right place when it came to immigrants, but his focus on Obamacare made the immigrants political fodder.

But its not just the Democrats. George W. Bush promised immigration reform and for all intents and purposes he was moving forward on it, until the Iraq War got in the way. Even after 9/11, Bush was open to immigration reform. But, México happened to occupy a rotating seat on the UN Security Council when the vote to authorize an invasion of Iraq came up. Vicente Fox, could not support the Iraq invasion and thus ordered his UN representative to vote against it at the Security Council. In response, Bush tabled immigration reform never to follow through on it. Again, immigrants were political fodder.

Regardless of what happens in the next few weeks, immigration is in the forefront of the national debate. The true colors of the Democrats and the Republicans will be exposed.

Will it be the loud minority anti-immigrants that will set the direction immigration reform takes, or will the silent majority force immigration reform out in the open? I’m hoping for the latter.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...