Goshen News, Goshen, IN

June 7, 2013

An open letter to Joe Donnelly and Dan Coats

— I am writing to encourage you to support the bipartisan immigration bill crafted by the so-called “Gang of Eight” senators: four Republicans, four Democrats. Immigration reform is long overdue, and the Senate proposal is one of the best efforts yet at offering compassionate, balanced treatment of undocumented workers in the United States.

Please encourage family unification (one of the central values of the United States), more guest worker visas for agricultural workers (on whom much of our food-related economy depends) and opportunities for civic engagement among all Latinos in this country.

New legislation needs to strengthen the rights of workers, families and communities—and should guard against the erosion of the bedrock rights that we cherish in the U.S., such as access to justice and due process. Please oppose any amendments that tear families apart. I urge you to listen carefully to the cross-section of voices throughout Indiana calling for reasonable and overdue immigration reform.

Often lost in the rhetoric about border security is history: Between 1824 and 1848 the United States, as a stronger military power than Mexico, essentially stole half of Mexico and “annexed” the land, which is now most of the southwestern U.S., including Texas. Indeed, the darker side of U.S. foreign policy over the years has frequently been ignored or forgotten. Earlier, of course, the land of the United States and Mexico belonged to the Native Americans. The lines on maps that delineate nation states are largely artificial devices that divide common humanity instead of unite it.

Speaking of history, now is the time to be on the right side of it and have meaningful, humane immigration reform in this country. Please vote for the bipartisan Senate bill—and encourage other senators to do so as well.

— Dan Shenk