[Blogger’s Note: In light of President Obama’s announcement of executive actions on immigration last Thursday, this post, first published on May 7, 2010, is worth a second read. I enjoyed the President’s address to the nation, especially his mention of Astrid Silva, the student carrying a three-degree university course-load. Still, he should have given Tinker Bell her due.]
Tinker Bell’s Immigration Solution
Ever the optimist and trying her best to think happy thoughts, Tinker Bell, the world’s most famous faerie, has been flying over Washington this week. She soared into town, lifted up by throngs of May Day marchers who believed popular revulsion to Arizona’s “Papers, please” law would finally jolt politicians into enacting comprehensive immigration reform.
Hailing from the country of Neverland, Tinker flew in solidarity with the marchers, alarmed that she had entered the country without inspection and without papers, and that all she had in her pocket was faerie dust. Then she plummeted, almost to the ground, as she saw Capitol Police arrest Rep. Luis Gutierrez and several others, each wearing T-shirts bearing the plea: “Arrest me, not my family.” She rose to a bit higher altitude on Sunday, watching the brave Luis G. on Face the Nation debate that Hookish Hayworth fellow:
My arrest was part of a response to what I consider the immorality of our broken immigration system. We were protesting the fact that hundreds of thousands of immigrant families have been destroyed, husbands losing their wives. There are 4 million American citizen children whose parents have either been deported or under threat of deportation. It’s time to make family sacrosanct once again and to fix our immigration system. So I was arrested yesterday because it was time, I thought, to escalate and to elevate the level of awareness and consciousness for all those who try to reach our shores and can’t because our system is broken.
The work week began, and again Tinker hovered low to the ground, as one politician after another threw cold water on what seemed the hottest recent prospects for reform, creating only steam. In need of a break, she repaired to the White house grounds and slept deeply — just above Michele Obama’s luscious vegetables — only to be awakened by festive music. A crowd of Cinco de Mayo celebrants had come to hear President Obama, with Michele at his side, speak again about the need for comprehensive immigration reform:
I want to say it again, just in case anybody is confused. The way to fix our broken immigration system is through common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform. That means responsibility from government to secure our borders, something we have done and will continue to do. It means responsibility from businesses that break the law by undermining American workers and exploiting undocumented workers -— they’ve got to be held accountable. It means responsibility from people who are living here illegally. They’ve got to admit that they broke the law, and pay taxes, and pay a penalty, and learn English, and get right before the law — and then get in line and earn their citizenship.
Comprehensive reform —- that’s how we’re going to solve this problem. And I know there’s been some commentary over the last week since I talked about this difficult issue: Well, is this politically smart to do? Can you get Republican votes? Look, of course, it’s going to be tough. That’s the truth. Anybody who tells you it’s going to be easy or I can wave a magic wand and make it happen hasn’t been paying attention how this town works. We need bipartisan support. But it can be done. And it needs to be done. So I was pleased to see a strong proposal for comprehensive reform presented in the Senate last week —- and I was pleased that it was based on a bipartisan framework. I want to begin work this year, and I want Democrats and Republicans to work with me — because we’ve got to stay true to who we are, a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.
Tinker Belle’s wings stopped fluttering. She fell to the ground, angrily muttering to herself:
What’s this about “begin work this year” coming from the candidate who promised to tackle the immigration challenge in his first year as President? This from the same man who just last week told University of Michigan graduates that “The point is, politics has never been for the thin-skinned or the faint-of-heart, and if you enter the arena, you should expect to get roughed up.” I can’t take it anymore!
Mustering all her strength, Tinker flew past the Secret Service with even more stealth than party crashers at a White House dinner. She didn’t stop flying until arriving like a hummingbird just at the President’s left ear. As he walked into the West Wing, she shouted to get his attention, but he could hardly hear her because his left side had become benumbed. She shouted even louder “YES WE CAN!” At last the young boy from Hawaii who grew up to wear ties in July heard and recognized her. The President told his retinue that he needed to be alone. Tinker faced Barack and said:
What’s this about not having a “magic wand” to wave around? You’re the President of the United States! You have more than just a bully pulpit. Have you forgotten the Constitutional Law you taught students at the University of Chicago? You don’t need Ben Nelson. You don’t need Lindsey Graham. You can sign an Executive Order and fix a large part of the country’s immigration problems, and neither Republicans, Democrats, Tea Partiers nor pundits can do anything about it.
Tinker threw pixie dust in the air and a scroll appeared. She unfurled it and began to read aloud:
— Providing for a System of Registration of Undocumented Immigrants to Protect National Security and for the Early Acceptance of Applications for Adjustment of Status to Permanent Resident Status by Individuals with Long-Backlogged Priority Dates.
Section 1. By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I declare an Immigration Emergency.
The said Immigration Emergency has arisen because:
- Over 10 million individuals of foreign origin are living illegally in the United States, many with American citizen children, but nevertheless generally contributing to the economic prosperity of the country and otherwise abiding our laws;
- The Federal Government lacks the economic resources and practical ability to remove these individuals from this country consistent with due process of law and has not ascertained the identities of most of these individuals, thereby undermining the safety and security of the nation from external and internal threats;
- The Congress and prior administrations have tried repeatedly but failed to enact comprehensive immigration reforms that would protect national security or honor our traditions as a nation of immigrants;
- Frustrated at the inaction of Congress and unwilling to pay for the unfunded burdens of a dysfunctional federal immigration policy, several states have enacted laws that interfere with, contradict and attempt to supplant the Federal Government’s preeminent authority over immigration law and policy;
- The most recent state legislation, enacted by the Arizona legislature and signed by its Governor, has raised serious civil rights and Constitutional concerns and poses risks to public safety since otherwise law-abiding persons illegally present in the country are unwilling to cooperate with the police in helping to stop crime and identify terrorist threats to public safety;
- Children and young adults who lack legal immigration status have been educated by our schools and colleges but are unable to begin careers or enroll in our military because of the lack of legal status and a work permit;
- Foreign students who have graduated from U.S. educational institutions and other lawfully present nonimmigrants who have obtained a labor certification or are otherwise eligible for sponsorship and approval of an employment-based or family-based immigrant visa are pressured to leave the U.S. and offer their energy and talents to our country’s competitor nations because of outdated agency interpretations, needlessly inflexible regulations and backlogged immigrant visa quotas that have been exacerbated by the failure of administrative agencies over several years to administer the immigrant visa quota system properly and avoid the loss and waste of such visas in each year’s allotments;
- Federal agencies charged with enforcement of the immigration laws have poorly prioritized their responsibilities by focusing to a greater extent than prudent on the arrest and deportation of persons whose only legal violations are entry without inspection or overstaying of one’s visas, thereby depleting enforcement resources that are better dedicated to anti-terrorism and serious criminal law violations;
- Federal enforcement agencies have largely failed to exercise the prosecutorial discretion to grant deferred action to foreign citizens who have strong ties in the U.S. and no serious criminal law history.
Section 2. The Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General shall — on an expedited basis — promulgate regulations and use their discretionary authority under law in order to:
- Establish a system of registration and national-security screening of illegally present foreign citizens who are to be encouraged to enroll in the registration system by the grant of deferred action and employment authorization to all registrants who pass security screening, prove that they have paid or otherwise arranged for payment of all federal income taxes owed, acknowledge their violations of immigration laws under oath, pay a civil fine of not more than $2,500, and pay user fees to cover the full cost of the registration system; and
- Allow the immediate submission of applications for adjustment of status under Section 245 of the Immigration and Nationality Act by persons who have obtained an immigrant visa priority date based on a non-frivolous filing with the Department of Labor of an application for Alien Labor Certification, or on an immigrant visa petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, that has a reasonable basis in law and fact.
THE WHITE HOUSE, May __, 2010
Tinker Bell picked up a pen from the Oval Office desk and handed it to the President, waiting hopefully that he would display courage and exercise leadership by signing the Executive Order.