Igualdad, US Citizenship and Immigration Reform, 03/04/13

U.S. Citizenship and immigration reform

As a US Citizen born in Puerto Rico, I am acutely aware of the nation’s need for an immigration reform and strongly support the growing consensus in Congress and throughout the country to craft a workable, humane solution to this troubling issue.

At the same time, it is important what Congress does about a related issue–the American citizens residing in Puerto Rico who suffer from geographic discrimination, since they do not have the same rights and responsibilities of the residents of the 50 States of the Union.

For the same reason, Puerto Ricans, as naturally born US citizens, have the moral responsibility to become actively engaged in the national debate on the comprehensive immigration reform.

There is a clear need to enact a just, fair, and comprehensive reform of the immigration system that improves the legal process for immigrants who wish to legally come to the United States. Start by creating a temporary classification for immigrants who want to legalize their work status. Technology must be brought to bear to improve the application for visas, as well as to track visitors during their stay in the US.

Our economy needs a steady flow of tens of thousands of temporary immigrants to work on seasonal agriculture, and agricultural related industries. A program is needed that identify and certify immigrant workforce needs for the different sectors of the economy.

The U.S. needs to attract a new pool of highly qualified immigrants to sustain the nation’s “knowledge economy”, and an improved system of visas for entrepreneurs and innovators that can promote the development of new businesses and industries that will create new jobs for Americans.

A legal mechanism has to be found that enables these talented young immigrants to achieve their full potential, and, thus, permit them to contribute to our nation’s enterprise, without being deported.

The time has come to pass and incorporate the “Dream Act” into a comprehensive federal immigration reform that will allow young people who meet the criteria to qualify and apply for permanent residence in the only nation that they know, and eventually, US citizenship.

The process must also contain an effective system that stops unauthorized immigration in the future and identify visitors that become illegal after their visit permits and visas expire.

American citizens who reside in Puerto Rico, independent of their birth place, should be treated equally, and with the same rights, opportunities and responsibilities of all other US citizens who reside in one of the 50 States.

Incorporating Puerto Rico as a full-fledged State of the Union, will guarantee that all American citizens who reside in Puerto Rico, including tens of thousands of naturalized citizens, are given the same rights that are being sought for immigrants under the immigration reform measures. After almost a century of loyally serving in the Armed Forces, and sharing the Nation in the good and bad times, they should no longer have to suffer geographic discrimination.

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