Fear should not lead policy

When news broke that ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] was targeting workers in our Laguna establishments, people riding on our buses, and cars carrying those who could be profiled as possible undocumented individuals, many of us were greatly saddened at the hurt this was causing our fellow human beings.

We have expressed this by protests at the bus station to let the authorities know we want the racial profiling to stop. Those protesting include members of the Interfaith Coalition of Laguna, Cross Cultural Council, the League of Women Voters, and members of other groups and individuals who care about human rights and civil rights.

In 2008, the League of Women Voters of the United States adopted a policy on immigration. During that study period, the Laguna Beach Unit of the League of Women Voters of Orange Coast held three town meetings, to which all members of the community were invited. Those town meetings were well attended.

As the Laguna Beach Unit looked at our current immigration law and its enforcement, they learned that existing law did not provide for an efficient, expeditious system for legal entry of immigrants to meet employers' needs for labor at both high-skilled and low-skilled jobs.

They found that Congress had failed to adequately fund any part of the system, including border security, and that various administrations, led by both parties, had failed to enforce existing law. In short, the system was broken.

The League position, adopted nationally by consensus, is to advocate for reform of laws dealing with immigration. That position can be accessed on the LWVUS web page.

Mary G. Wilson, President of the U.S. League said, in a letter to the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, "During the transition to such a comprehensive policy, the League supports a system to permit the unauthorized immigrants already in this country to earn legal status, including citizenship, by paying taxes, learning English, studying civics, and meeting other relevant criteria. We oppose deportations of current unauthorized immigrants who have no history of serious criminal activity."

We have just celebrated the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The writer of that document, Thomas Jefferson, as he contemplated the nature of a democratic system of government, recognized the responsibility of all of us to be informed, participating citizens, when he said, "Any nation which expects to exist, ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, wants what never was, and never will be." I trust the American people to make the right decisions, based on their values, if they have good and correct information about issues, and don't allow fear and "sound bites" to cloud their judgment.

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