Thursday, May 3, 2012

POS - A letter to Senator Durbin

In my business law class this semester during my MBA program we were assigned a writing assignment to write a letter to a government official.  I figured I might as well post it here as well as send it to Senator Durbin, the Democrat Senator from IL, who is the Senate Majority Whip.  It's my thoughts on immigration and also how it needs to be an issue addressed before the election, not after.  So, enjoy!

Senator Dick Durbin
711 Hart Senate Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Durbin:

            I am writing to you today about an issue that I feel is extremely important and should not wait until after the November election.  To give you some background on myself:  I am a registered voter in the state of Illinois, and I voted for you both in 2002 and 2008, and in 2006 I volunteered for the Tammy Duckworth Congressional campaign, and I am a consistent voter in all elections, both primaries and general elecitons.  (I am registered as a Republican however, so I can pull a GOP ballot for the primaries in IL to try and make sure that a candidate I hate never gets to the general election).  I am 30 years old, hold a masters degree, married, and have a newborn son.  I am a seventh generation American, but my wife is a naturalized citizen who came to the country legally when she was 7, and the issue that I feel needs to be addressed by our government as soon as possible is the topic of immigration.
            In 2008 then candidate Obama promised to make immigration an issue he would tackle in his first year in office.  Unfortunately, he wasted his political capital on a healthcare reform bill that although noble in intent was extremely poorly sold to the American public, resulting in people hating a bill that in reality they would actually like if they just understood the bill.  Because of this, he allowed immigration to fall by the wayside, and a major campaign promise he made went unfulfilled.  This should not be the case, as not tackling this issue is giving the GOP an opportunity to steal a major voting block from the Democratic Party.  There are estimated to be over 10 million illegal immigrants in this nation, and many millions more recent legal immigrants as well here on student or worker visas, and millions of recently naturalized citizens as well that now are able to vote in elections.  Traditionally, immigrants, especially Latino immigrants, tend to vote Democratic, but if a number of Latinos feel that President Obama betrayed them by not acting on immigration, they might either vote GOP or simply stay home in November.  With how close this election is likely to be, and with the country’s future hanging in the balance, you need to use your role as Majority Whip to get your colleagues to push as hard as they can to get immigration brought to the floor, and part of the political conversation for the fall election.  Just like the recent push for the Buffet Rule, the Senate needs to make a similar push for legislation benefitting immigrants, in order to force it as a wedge issue for the fall.  The Buffet Rule is allowing the debate for the fall to be cast in a class conflict, the 99% vs the 1%.  Having the GOP be just as obstinate on immigration as they are on raising taxes on the wealthy be a heavily discussed topic in the news cycle will cause Latinos to realize that they should not vote for a party that they might agree with on social issues such as gay marriage or abortion.  This will cause Latinos to feel that the President & the Democratic Party are working for them, and that the GOP is actively working against them, and will ensure that the Latino vote remains solidly Democrat for years to come.

(read the rest of the letter after the jump)
            Considering that Latinos are a group that will be increasingly a larger and larger voting bloc as time wears on, and potentially the largest ethnicity in the country by the middle of the century, the Democratic Party needs to make sure that they do not lose this crucial voting bloc.  We can and must learn our lesson from history.  After the civil war, Whites in the south would not vote for a Republican if their lives depended on it for a century, simply because they were the party that freed the slaves.  After the civil rights movement, southern Whites switched sides again, back to the GOP, after the Democratic Party pushed through much needed civil rights laws.  In the future, the Democratic Party needs to make sure that they don’t commit a similar mistake and drive the Latino vote out of Democratic hands.  Sooner or later the GOP will wake up and realize that they need to reach out to Latino voters to counter the shrinking demographics within their current party tent, and if the GOP is successful in making immigration reform their issue instead of the Democrats, they could steal that voting bloc for decades to come.  But if the Democrats can beat the GOP to the punch and achieve immigration reform first, then they can make sure that they hang on to the Latino vote.
            If you and your fellow Senators are able to bring immigration to the floor this year, there are two possible outcomes as far as I see them:  1) The GOP stays obstructionist, blocking any legislation from reaching the floor.  2) Immigration reform gets passed in a bipartisan bill.  Either way this outcome is good for the Democratic Party.  If the first outcome takes place, then Democrats can use this as a wedge issue in November, bringing Latinos to the polls in heavy numbers, giving them an incentive to make sure that there are 60 Democratic Senators to prevent a filibuster, as well as help to retake the house.  Yes there is the risk that some White voters will be driven to the polls to vote GOP because of this, but lets be honest, those voters were never going to vote Democrat anyway, and they most likely hate Obama so much that they were planning on voting anyways, while if the Latinos are disillusioned they will stay home.  If the second outcome comes to pass, then as long as Democrats were the ones that introduced the bill, they can make sure to take the most credit for its passage, especially if a majority of the GOP opposes it and only a few Senators are willing to help reach 60 votes.  (Try their retiring Senators like Olympia Snowe, since they’re retiring anyways they don’t have anything to lose.  I doubt Jon Kyl or Kay Bailey Hutchinson will help, but their states do have a lot of Latino voters so it is possible.)  If this outcome occurs, then we will have done a great thing for our country.
            For immigration reform, the DREAM Act, while a great start that I hope passes soon, is not enough.  We also need to take action to deal with the millions of adults, and give them a path to citizenship.  Rounding up and deporting millions of people is not an option.  I’m far more in favor of a path to citizenship, as long as that path includes paying of back taxes.  Lord knows the country can use the revenue, and by adding these workers to the tax rolls, we help drive down the deficit in the future as well, by increasing the nation’s revenue stream.  We’re already spending the money on services for the immigrants in our country, but now they can be paying in to the system as well so the burden isn’t on the rest of us taxpayers.
            So please consider my letter a call to action to bring immigration reform to the Senate before, not after the election.  It’s not like much else is getting passed these days.  I know some feel that it is a risk with 16 Democrats up for reelection and 7 retiring leaving open seats, but the majority of those seats are in the North and are blue states as it is.  But with the large Latino populations in Arizona, Nevada, & Texas, perhaps we can steal those opening seats from the GOP.  Please consider my proposal, and in the event that you decide not to make it an issue before this election, please at least make sure that it becomes the first thing addressed by Congress after the election.  Thank you for your time reading this letter.


Michael Cohodes

No comments:

Post a Comment