A majority of Americans support comprehensive immigration reform, requiring undocumented immigrants to pass background checks, study English, pay taxes, and work towards full U.S. citizenship.
The DREAM Act allows children of undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States for at least five years, graduated from high school, and are of good moral character the opportunity to earn citizenship through at least two years of college or military service.
Originally touted as an enforcement program that would only be used to deport serious criminals, Secure Communities is instead resulting in local police doubling as immigration agents. Because the majority of people deported under the program have either been convicted of minor offenses, such as traffic violations, or don't have any criminal record at all, it has further damaged trust between immigrants and police.
Immigration reform not only makes moral and political sense, it makes economic sense. Passing comprehensive immigration reform would result in a $1.5 trillion increase in GDP over ten years and would keep the U.S. economy competitive.
In the absence of comprehensive immigration reform, a few states across the country have stepped in to implement their own local immigration laws. Some have been immigrant-friendly, while others have not. Ultimately, immigration is a federal responsibility and Washington must address immigration reform at the federal level -- and soon.
Throughout America's history as a nation of immigrants, there have been xenophobes and nativists expressing fear and anger about the nation's changing face. But changing times and rough economies bring out the worst in people, from calls for mass deportation to comments from politicians who think immigrants are less than human. Watch out, it can get ugly.