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SPJ's Diversity Blog » Blog Archive » Immigration reform | A Society of Professional Journalists Blog

Immigration reform

By Leo E. Laurence, J.D.; Member: SPJ National Diversity Committee and CCNMA – Latino Journalists of California; editor: San Diego News Service

“Most Americans acknowledge that the immigration system is broken, even if they disagree about how to fix it,” writes columnist Ruben Navarrette Jr. of the San Diego Union Tribune. He’s a respected leader in the Latino community.

“(President) Obama understands that, in order to have a successful administration, a president needs to do more than give speeches. He needs to put points on the board.

“If health care is, in fact, doomed now because of (Republican Scott) Brown’s victory (in Massachusetts), then Obama will need another cause to trumpet,” Navarrette says.

That could be immigration reform.

“This debate isn’t as simple as Blue and Red. There are Republicans who support comprehensive immigration reform and Democrats who oppose it,” the Latino columnist says.

As a presidential candidate, Obama promised Latino voters that he would deliver comprehensive immigration reform. Latinos are fast becoming a more powerful political force in the Unites States.

The answer is not in significantly increased border-patrol enforcement. A ranking sailor – James Boswell, STD2, USN – recently drove from Chicago to San Diego in a new car with Virginia plates. Traveling across Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. He was stopped FOUR times by the border patrol. Each time he was told that he was stopped solely because he had out-of-state license plates. The border patrol only wanted him to prove his American citizenship. After producing his military ID, he was released.

It’s questionable whether solely having out-of-state plates on a new car provides the necessary probable cause before law enforcement can lawfully stop a car. Immigration enforcement is arguably out-of-hand, and seemingly far worse than it was under Republican presidents.

“If immigration reform doesn’t happen in 2010, the debate will only become more complicated,” columnist Navarrette believes. “If Republicans take control of Congress in November, the issue could be off the table for 2010. And, since little gets done in a presidential campaign, don’t expect much to happen (on immigration reform) in 2012.”

For those seriously interested in diversity issues, immigration reform provides a fertile field for journalists.

Contact Leo Laurence at leopowerhere@msn.com

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