Friday, December 23, 2005

Commentary by Ed Leahy, Coordinator, Nebraska Appleseed Comprehensive Immigration Reform Program

Here is a potent expression of hope and critique of the direction that our country has gone by way of Dr. Ted Hamann at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln who is connected to Great Plains immigrant rights activism. This is very appropriate as our leaders try to distract us at this very moment with the crazy issue over whether Christmas is at risk. Thanks, Ted. -Angela

Dear Friends,

At this time of the year, humanity has always reached deep within itself to reflect on the changes that surround us, to evaluate the growing light of the day, to give thanks, and to worship. In the modern world, we reflect this in the celebrations of Hannukah, Kwanza, Christmas, and Ramadan. Unfortunately, we have also witnessed the effect of religious extremism and a fear of what we do not understand that has resulted in the redefinition of these religious beliefs and of this holiday season. Moreover, these illogical fears have caused some to also redefine America in the same extremist vein.
Because of this debate, the public mind has made many false connections: Muslim = terrorist, immigrant = illegal, security = limited liberty, and happy holidays = a morally bankrupt, secular plan of attack to destroy the constitution and insult superior people. To further add to our dismay, we have seen our Congress, especially the House of Representatives, reflect these false comparisons and retreat behind the equally false notion that party unity = justice.

A quick review of Congress' recent actions (such as the budget reduction bill that further burdens the working poor and widens the gap between the "haves" and the "haven't got a prayers;" the discussion about trading liberty for security in the reauthorization of the Patriot Act; the insertion of unrelated amendments of issues long-defeated [such as oil drilling in ANWR and the CLEAR Act] but resurrected and enshrined in "must-pass" legislation) found their culmination, at least for those concerned with comprehensive immigration reform, in the passage of HR 4437, Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act by Rep. Sensenbrenner.

All three Nebraska representatives (Terry, Fortenberry, and Osborne) voted for this shameful legislation. ¡Ay que lastima!

Friends, do not be dismayed. Congress is on recess; it is not over. People of good conscience and goodwill must respond to these unprecedented challenges on human dignity in the coming session, which begins January 9. We will make our voice heard, and we invite you to join in this historic debate on Thursday, February 2, 2006 from 6:30-8:30 at the Skutt Student Center Ballroom at Creighton University. The attached flyers are for your use in inviting others to form a strong movement that will carry the short-term debate about fair and comprehensive immigration reform to its just end.

In all the years that I have had the distinct honor of working with and serving the newest Americans in our society, I have never been more filled with hope for a significant step towards a solution than I am now. However, I have also never experienced such revulsion at the inhumanity and indignant reactions of those who seek to define America in their own privileged and disconnected image.

So, the lines are drawn. Santa Claus might not be watching Congress to see if they have been bad or good, but we will be. Will you?

Please join us on February 2!

Happy Holidays,


Edward W. Leahy
Nebraska Appleseed Comprehensive Immigration Reform Program
3605 Q St.
Omaha, NE 68107
402-546-1013 (office)
402-689-4249 (Cell)
402-734-8887 (fax)

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