America's current heartburn over immigration policy has focused on, among other things, the impact of immigrants on African American workers and other low-wage, uneducated workers. This superficial analysis is summed up by the cry, "They are taking our jobs."
To unite us in pursuing the ambitious agenda demanded by the times, the next president must ground bold initiatives in a compelling vision of community, from neighborhood to globe. If successful, that vision will not resemble some blueprint for policy-plumbing. It will be a tapestry of values and aspirations that evokes and summons the best of what we can be.
We have two central propositions. The first concerns vision and values, the second concerns vision and color.
In 2002 and 2004, Republicans won on national security and terrorism. In 2006, they thought they could use illegal immigration to win again. Yet being tough on illegal immigrants did not turn out to be the Hail Mary pass that could galvanize the conservative base to save the Republican majorities in Congress. Instead, it may have added to the points scored by Democrats with another part of the electorate -- Hispanic voters.
While people choose to risk life and limb to enter this country illegally for many reasons, the vast majority come to seek employment -- and they find it. What would happen if employers were effectively penalized for hiring the undocumented? Would there be fewer job opportunities for those who should not be here and, consequently, fewer people trying to enter illegally?
When May rolls around, the people who work in the Bush White House Scheduling Office know it's time to show Hispanics that the president cares about this growing community. And for the last three years, the Bush White House has invited Latino leaders from across the country (or at least those who support this administration) to celebrate Cinco de Mayo on the White House lawn.
For those who wonder if there's something more to this day than the tequila and beer industries' marketing efforts, Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday celebrating the victory of a Mexican army over a much larger French army in 1862. In the United States, however, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in this country -- especially in the Southwest -- as an occasion for cultural affirmation and ethnic pride.