The Immigration Debate Is Not a Race

On the issues: Rep. Young Kim and Asif Mahmood on abortion, inflation and immigration.

The immigration issue is perhaps the flashiest of the many flash points that lie at the core of the immigration debate.

That flash is a clash between a small number of legislators, backed by organizations including NARAL Pro-Choice America and the National Council of La Raza, who want to use immigration laws to make abortion illegal and prevent Latinos from voting.

The Republican Party leadership, led by House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, are opposed.

The Democrats are split with two of their leaders, Reps. Maxine Waters and Steny Hoyer, opposing the push for strict immigration laws.

“This is a question of public safety,” said Rep. Young Kim, a freshman congresswoman from the Chicago suburbs. “The public safety of this country hinges on allowing every person to participate in our democratic society by lawfully voting and exercising the right to vote in this country. If we are going to have millions of people come in [by] non-immigrant visas, we have got to make sure that they have the legal right to do so.”

The clash is a reminder that, with the exception of immigration, the immigration issue does not exist in a vacuum. Every other facet of the immigration debate, from foreign labor policies to family reunification, is inextricably entwined with the politics of race and the history of discrimination in America.

And as the immigration debate enters its final year, the issue of race is on the rise.

In this environment, it is no longer appropriate to ask why the immigration debate is so important. What is more important is how to handle immigration so the debate does not become a race. It is to this point that Rep. John Conyers Jr. is now engaged in his fight to win passage of the DREAM Act, a bill that will allow young immigrants brought by their parents to remain in the United States if they meet certain requirements.

And it is this point

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