There’s a major national issue that affects tens of millions of families, would add $1.5 trillion to the economy, and gets at the core of the American story—and it seems like people are tuning out.
More than half of Americans aren’t paying much attention to the movement for immigration reform and the debate it’s generating in Washington—and the fact that people just aren’t tuning in “means that either side can still shape public opinion.”1
Here are 5 reasons immigration reform matters—big time.
1. Lives are at stake. Every day, the government deports more than 1,100 aspiring Americans—mothers, breadwinners, students—ripping families apart simply for trying to build a better life.2 Our broken immigration system keeps abused immigrants from seeking help, immigrant witnesses from testifying against criminals, and too many working in unsafe and illegal conditions. In a moral America, this must stop.
2. The economy will benefit. Legal status for 11 million would add $1.5 trillion to the U.S. economy via new tax revenue from the increased wages that workers with legal status earn. And Social Security would become more solvent, thanks to the $611 billion that immigrants would add to the system over the next 75 years.3
3. The right is going all out to kill it. Last time immigration reform seemed inevitable—in 2006 and 2007—a vocal conservative minority killed it. Roy Beck, director of the fearmongering nativist group NumbersUSA, has said that conservatives have sent more than 1 million faxes to Congress already this year, and more than 190,000 people have signed his group’s petition against reform.4 If Roy Beck and friends are mobilizing to stop immigration reform, you can bet that’s a sign that there’s something progressive here that’s worth fighting for.
4. We have the numbers to get real, meaningful, comprehensive immigration reform now. The 2012 election was a watershed victory for Latino, Asian-American, and progressive voters—thanks in part to MoveOn members’ work—and we can’t let anyone forget that. 71% of Latino voters and 73% of Asian-American voters cast their ballots for President Obama.5 The rising American electorate that helped elect President Obama is more diverse than ever and demanding real immigration reform—and voters are going to hold all politicians accountable for delivering on their promises.
5. We’re here because a social movement has brought us here. From Arizona day laborers who stood up to armed vigilantes to immigrant young people known as DREAMers who risked arrest wearing their graduation caps and gowns—brave women, men, and children have risked everything to make this moment possible.6 They’re asking us to stand with them, and it’s time we answered their call.
Please share this with your friends and family—and talk about it at the dinner table tonight.
1. “Washington is deeply engaged with immigration. The public? Not so much.” The Washington Post, May 1, 2013
2. “Opinion: Removing Non-Criminals from the Deportation Backlog Makes Us Safer,” Fox News Latino, August 19, 2011
3. “Immigrants Are Makers, Not Takers,” Center for American Progress, February 8, 2013
4. “Foes of immigration ‘amnesty’ mobilizing,” USA Today, March 7, 2013
5. “The Facts on Immigration Today,” Center for American Progress, April 3, 2013
6. “How to Close the Distance Between Washington and the Reality of Immigration,” Huffington Post, May 2, 2013