The March for Innovation, a pro-immigration reform group, launched a North Carolina campaign today, hashtag #iMarch. I’m proud to support them. It’s time to get this done.
Personally, I think taco trucks are reason enough to pass comprehensive immigration reform. But food aside, fixing our broken immigration system is as much sound politics as it is sound policy. The public is tired of a debate that’s been going on since early in George Bush’s second term and almost everybody realizes we can’t deport the 12 million immigrants who are here already.
Now, a poll is out in North Carolina showing that 76% of voters support the immigration bill moving through Congress and 66% say it’s very important to fix the system this year. Those are powerful numbers that show support crosses demographic and political lines. In 2006, immigration reform was derailed by a relatively small but vocal group of opponents fueled by anti-immigrant anger rather than sound economic policies. This time, we need to listen to common sense, not raw emotion.
In North Carolina, agriculture is still a dominant industry that depends on a reliable source of immigrant labor to survive. Our universities are churning out talented, ambitious researchers and scientists with no clear path to stay in this country, which means we are training the next generation of explorers and inventors for other countries. Finally, the food trucks I so love make up just a fraction of the immigrant owned businesses generating revenue and providing jobs in North Carolina.
The fight over immigration reform will be fraught with emotion at a time when common sense needs to prevail. The law-and-order crowd will team up with the xenophobes to try to scare a state that’s having difficulty emerging from the recession. Fortunately, a broad-based, bi-partisan coalition of business leaders, labor organizations, agricultural interests and civic leaders are joining forces to counter the spin that’s bound to come.
It’s time to put this issue to bed. The bill that’s been worked out in Congress today was put together by members of both parties. Is it perfect? Of course not, but it moves an issue forward that’s been stuck in the same place for far too long. Voters are ready ready for Congress to get past the dysfunction and gridlock that have defined it for the past six years. This time, the political price will be heavier for those who fail to act than for those who do.