Miami’s magical dynamism and immigration justice

admin January 30, 2012 Comments Off

Posted on Mon, Jan. 30, 2012
Miami’s magical dynamism and immigration justice


This we believe to the core of our Miami souls:
The magical dynamism that is America, so vivid here in Miami, is the product of a society continually rejuvenated by arrivals diverse in background but homogenous in courage, vision and entrepreneurial spirit — the DNA of people who have risked so much to achieve the American Dream. This common dream is what unites us and our country. It makes our many, one.

This history shared by our immigrant families — be they first or fifth or even earlier generations — is the story of America. Yet, as we write these thoughts, anti-immigrant sentiment spreads throughout our country.

Unprecedented difficult economic conditions during the last few years have aggravated these sentiments. We can all agree that we need our borders to be secure and our immigration laws to be rational and humane. But several anti-immigrant laws in states like Alabama and Arizona and other government policies are an intemperate, xenophobic, even un-American, response to a policy problem that begs for a cool-headed, commonsense national solution.

In these increasingly difficult times, however, there is hope. Every day right here in Miami, we can witness a response to this problem that reflects the best that is America. An extraordinary organization, Americans for Immigrant Justice (formerly known as Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center), works on the frontlines of the immigration struggle, fighting to ensure that America does not shrink from its commitment to human rights, individual liberty and a rational and humane immigration policy.

Every day AI Justice’s team of dedicated lawyers defend the human rights of American immigrants sold into slavery, desperate asylum seekers fleeing unimaginable suffering in their home countries or unaccompanied minor children in immigration detention without the most basic legal protections. They do so in a system where many immigrants are afforded little respect. Most recently, the organization has thrown its support behind the Dream Act, which would give deserving undocumented students and servicemen an opportunity to pursue higher education in this country, the country they call home.

AI Justice’s response is quintessentially American — to give a voice to immigrants lost in our system.

Sadly, our treatment of immigrants today is becoming a dark chapter in our nation’s history, when intentional misinformation, fear and intolerance still or drown out the voices of many Americans of good conscience. When our nation enters these periods of uncertainty and fear, it is our obligation to stand up and defend the foundations of our democracy and those who renew and replenish its spirit. Miamians bear a special obligation in this area. Our history as a community of immigrants demands it.

Let us make this day and the ones to come when we take a stand as one. AI Justice is leading the charge, and it is time to follow this dream, this path. In one generation or another, with the exception of Native Americans, we are all immigrants, and hence must all speak up for the America that beckoned us to these shores, whether last year or last century or even before.

Let us not give in to the fear that permeates so much of our society today. Let us not allow ourselves to neglect those who most need our help. Let us speak up in a chorus of voices to proclaim the importance of immigration — not only for the immigrants themselves, but also for the future and the constant positive renewal of our country.

We all have seen the opportunity of the American dream alive in Miami. Nothing could be more “American.”

Cesar Alvarez is the executive chairman of Greenberg Traurig. David Lawrence Jr. is the president of The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation and chair of The Children’s Movement of Florida. One arrived in 1960 at age 13 from Cuba with his family. The other had forebears who came on the Mayflower in 1620 by way of Holland and England. Both families sought freedom. These are their personal views.

© 2012 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved.

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