As an Oregonian I am proud that my state has the foresight to put ballot measure 88 on the ballot which would allow undocumented citizens the ability to gain a driver’s license in the state. This kind of enlightened social policy acknowledges the reality that people come to this country out of economic necessity and we benefit from this and people who have come here to escape economic hardship benefit as well as their families.
Economics is key to the immigration debate in our country. Rather than criminalize people who have been made destitute by our own trade policies, we need to take a closer look at our global trade agreements and see what impact they have had on the people of Mexico.
Since the implementation of NAFTA, or the North American Free Trade Agreement, over two decades ago, illegal immigration to this country has increased. Workers in Mexico have been forced off of their land, they have been forced off of land they used to communally farm and in response they have come to the United States in search of work out of desperation and poverty, and this is a direct response to the impact of global trade agreements.
Instead of criminalizing economic refugees, who risk their lives crossing the Sonoran desert, we should promote fair trade policies. As many as 3000 people per year have died crossing the desert just trying to get into this country. These people are this desperate to come to the United States. What we need is to support fair trade policies which do not economically devastate the working poor people of Mexico. This is the real solution to the immigration issue.
We also need to support a clear path to citizenship. Undocumented workers and their families have lived here too long, contributed too much to be ignored. These hard working people want citizenship. As a candidate for Federal office I support easing the path to citizenship for undocumented citizens. I do not support using military service as a carrot to citizenship, I believe the path should be open and easy to access and quick. Our country is a nation of immigrants. Every generation of immigrants has made our country stronger and I honor their contributions.
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