The Edmond Sun


December 5, 2012

'Immigration reform' is just the beginning

BALTIMORE — Suddenly, everyone is courting “immigration reform.” The 2012 elections unveiled the changing face of America, and this new sensation is causing quite the stir. What a spectacle to see the starry-eyed suitors scramble, now that the long-scorned outcast is revealed to be the belle of the ball.

But let’s not be under any illusions about some politicians’ newfound ardent desire for immigration reform. Their talk show chatter bespeaks the danger of fickleness. America needs deeper change if immigration is to be a love match and not a marriage of convenience. That’s why immigration reform, by itself, is not the answer.

True, the time has certainly arrived to come together and create a fair and just immigration process. Reform must include a legalization program for undocumented immigrants living in America. It must also allow families at risk of being separated to stay together; safeguard refugees and asylum seekers in the United States; and treat all migrants with fairness, justice and dignity.

I stand with all who are looking to our leaders, both Democrats and Republicans, to deliver these common-sense and humane immigration laws. We will speak out for that type of reform and hold our elected officials to account. But a great deal more is needed for this country to put aside bitterness, truly make peace with immigration and restore our long tradition as a country of immigrants that lifts high a torch for all those “yearning to breathe free.”

Better laws are critically needed but insufficient; we need to rediscover our roots to fundamentally reform the way we think about migrants and immigration. In short, we need to redefine the welcome that we give to new Americans.

True welcome means more than allowing individuals to legally cross our borders; it means embracing new Americans in a way that plays to all of our strengths. For that, we must begin by remembering our own immigrant roots and connecting our own story to that of others. Once again we can be a people who want immigrants to be our new neighbors, and recognize how they enrich our lives and communities. We know that, when given an authentic welcome, immigrants have become successful entrepreneurs and drivers of economic growth. That’s why Baltimore has rolled out the red carpet to thousands of immigrant families and aims to attract more. I am proud to say that my hometown is redefining welcome.

We can accomplish this welcome all across this land. America has proven over the centuries that greatness, even world leadership, is within the grasp of a nation of immigrants. While the Old World powers were scoffing at us as upstarts, we were busy building what would be the world’s pre-eminent example of strength through diversity. These are the traditions that unite us and define us, and they can breathe life into whatever reforms might emerge in 2013.

So I say, let the courtship proceed, so that everyone has a chance to be seen with immigration reform on their arm. Let new laws be drafted that embody our proud heritage of liberty and justice for all. But we are called upon to do more: to embrace immigrants in ways that fulfill the promise and possibility of those new laws.

What is meant here by “embrace”? Besides the welcoming attitude the word implies — which can only really take root when individuals adopt it — that embrace takes concrete form at the community level. Cities around the country would do well to follow Baltimore’s lead by setting explicit policies that welcome immigrants and make it easier for them to settle down.

Congregations can make a difference, too: There’s great value in dedicating a few intentional moments of a service or study time to encouraging people to connect with their immigrant neighbors. School systems and curricula have their own pivotal role. From universities to kindergartens, teachers of tolerance are vitally needed. Making wise policies by approving in-state tuition for hard-working young undocumented immigrants who meet certain criteria can help increase this tolerance.

In short, we need not just comprehensive federal immigration reform but also an embracing attitude to match. Then we’ll have true welcome and true reform.

LINDA HARTKE is president and CEO of Baltimore-based Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. She wrote this for The Baltimore Sun. It was distributed by MCT Information Services.

Text Only
  • Is English getting dissed?

    Is the English language being massacred by the young, the linguistically untidy and anyone who uses the Internet? Absolutely.
    Is that anything new? Hardly.
    Many words and expressions in common parlance today would have raised the hackles of language scolds in the not-so-distant past. For evidence, let’s look at some examples from recent newspaper articles.

    July 31, 2014

  • 'Too big to fail' equals 'too eager to borrow'

    Four years ago this month, President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Act into law, promising that the 848-page financial law would “put a stop to taxpayer bailouts once and for all,” he said. But recently, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren told a Detroit crowd that “the biggest banks are even bigger than they were when they got too big to fail in 2008.”
    Who’s right?

    July 30, 2014

  • Sheltons travel for better life for family

    Some time around 1865 a mixed-race African American couple, William and Mary Shelton, made their way from Mississippi to east Texas. Nothing is known for certain of their origins in he Magnolia state, or the circumstances under which they began their new lives in Texas.

    July 29, 2014

  • Film critic Turan produces book

    Kenneth Turan, who is the film critic for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” has written a book “Not to be Missed, Fifty-Four Favorites from a Life Time of Film.” His list of movies span the gamut from the beginnings of filmmaking through the present day.
    There are some surprising omissions on his list. While he includes two films, “A Touch of Evil” and Chimes at Midnight” made by Orson Welles, and one, “The Third Man,” that Welles starred in but did not direct. He did not however, include “Citizen Kane,” that was the first movie Welles made, that is  often cited by both film critics and historians as a favorite film.

    July 28, 2014

  • Logan County’s disputed zone

    Watchers of “Star Trek” may recall the episode from the original series entitled, “Day of the Dove.” In this episode, Captain Kirk and his crew are forced by a series of circumstances into a confrontation with the Klingons. The conflict eventually resolves after Kirk realizes that the circumstances have been intentionally designed by an alien force which feeds off negative emotions, especially fear and anger. Kirk and his crew communicate this fact to the Klingons and the conflict subsides. No longer feeding upon confrontation, the alien force is weakened and successfully driven away.

    July 28, 2014

  • Russell leads in Sun poll

    Polling results of an unscientific poll at show that Steve Russell, GOP candidate for the 5th District congressional seat, is in the lead with 57 percent of the vote ahead of the Aug. 26 runoff election. Thirty readers participated in the online poll.

    July 28, 2014

  • Healthier and Wealthier? Not in Oklahoma

    Increased copays, decreased coverage, diminished health care access, reduced provider budgets and increased frustration are all the outcomes of the Legislature’s 2014 health care funding decisions. Unlike some years in the past when a languishing state economy forced legislators into making cuts, the undesirable outcomes this year could easily have been avoided.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medicaid reform a necessity

    Historically, education spending by the state of Oklahoma has been the largest budget item. This is no longer the case. In recent years, the state of Oklahoma spends more on Medicaid (operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority) than common education and higher education combined, according to the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

    July 25, 2014

  • Remembering lessons from 1974

    This week marks the 40th anniversary of an important milestone in America’s constitutional history. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court voted 8-0 to order the Nixon White House to turn over audiotapes that would prove the president and his close aides were guilty of criminal violations. This ruling established with crystal clarity that the executive branch could not hide behind the shield of executive privilege to protect itself from the consequences of illegal behavior. It was a triumph for the continued vitality of our constitutional form of government.

    July 25, 2014

  • RedBlueAmerica: Is parenting being criminalized in America?

    Debra Harrell was arrested recently after the McDonald’s employee let her daughter spend the day playing in a nearby park while she worked her shift. The South Carolina woman says her daughter had a cell phone in case of danger, and critics say that children once were given the independence to spend a few unsupervised hours in a park.
    Is it a crime to parent “free-range” kids? Does Harrell deserve her problems? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, debate the issue.

    July 24, 2014


The runoff race for the 5th District congressional seat is set for Aug. 26. If the voting were today, which candidate would you support?

Al McAffrey
Tom Guild
     View Results