The immigration issue has percolated a long time now. For years, reformers attempted to pass comprehensive legislation in Congress only to get opposition from extreme, xenophobic forces within the Republican Party. Even George W. Bush tried to get a deal and failed to defeat the viciously right-wing.
Opponents of solutions on immigration have aimed their attacks squarely at President Obama since he took office. Their vitriol has intensified, however, in the time since the last election and especially since the president passed a version of the DREAM Act via an executive order that allowed undocumented immigrants who were brought here as children to stay and achieve legal status.
The culmination of this criticism of Obama has come with this current crisis as children cross the border. While President Obama —who has said repeatedly that he does not believe in amnesty — tries to come up with a compassionate, common sense approach to this problem, he’s gotten only a politically-motivated roadblock from the Republican Party.
While he’s been reaching out to the other side to try and work together, ideological extremists and transparent political opportunists like Texas Gov. Rick Perry have done everything they can to tear him down. It's disgusting, and it's a disservice to this country. It’s time to do something fundamentally different on this issue, to finally come up with a substantive solution.
What immigration reform advocates are trying to do is find a balance: between the security of our border and the critical need to enforce our immigration laws, with the reality that there are innocent children and families who are here simply because they believe in the American Dream and want to create a better future for themselves. That’s why this fight is so relevant, and personal, for the LGBT community; just like them, we are people who simply want to pursue happiness. The Declaration of Independence guarantees us that ambition. If we want happiness for ourselves, then we must stand up and make it happen for them as well.
As the late Harvey Milk talked about, it’s not just about us individually. It’s about all of us, including LGBT people, women, union workers, immigrants who have all fought for our civil rights and for our right to be treated fairly and equally.
Let's send a message to Washington that we stand with those who fight for reform and against the hatred and bigotry of those such as Gov. Perry, who is motivated to oppose their dignity and humanity for the same reasons that he is opposed to ours.
JAMES DUKE MASON is a contributing writer to The Advocate and a political activist in West Hollywood. Follow him on Twitter @JamesDukeMason.