The citizenship lie

PUBLICADO: EST Jan 7, 2014 12:01 am EST

The issue of citizenship for beneficiaries of a hypothetical immigration reform is a controversy based on lies and misinterpretation intended to hinder the law.

This falsehood emerged from the idea that the bill the Senate approved means granting "immediate voting privileges" to 11 million people, like Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said on Sunday in ABC's "This Week." The lawmaker said this lie while asking Democrats to come closer to his tough stance at the House of Representatives.

In reality, the Senate's bipartisan measure establishes a 13-year path before beneficiaries are ready to apply for citizenship. A path that is not immediate or straightforward, and it is very likely that many who start it will drop out along the way.

The argument that this is a Democratic trick to create voters is unacceptable. In 13 years, the political environment will be very different from today's, so this claim cannot be made in a responsible way. After all, opponents should not be concerned, because people say that Latinos are not interested in citizenship.

This is another argument that points to accepting legalization without citizenship. In this case, a Pew Hispanic poll is being interpreted in such a way as to reach the wrong conclusion that Latinos are not interested in citizenship, because they are more concerned about getting deported now than about one day having citizenship thanks to a law that currently does not exist. It is natural for the biggest concern to be the threat (which is immediate) of being separated from their family.

These arguments against citizenship must be rejected. The mere idea of creating a separate category of people by arbitrarily limiting their integration into society and future political participation is repugnant, considering the history and ideals that our country represents.

Citizenship is not a gift, but something that is earned. The price to pay, according to the Senate's bill, are 13 years of fulfilling tough conditions in order to reach the possibility of applying for citizenship, without any guarantee of obtaining it. Citizenship should not be used as a negotiation tool either.

The fallacies and malicious interpretations are multiplying and contradicting each other, as people try not to be held responsible for the lack of progress of the reform, which today is exclusively due to the extremism of the lower chamber.

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