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From Long Island Wins

Immigration: Shouldn’t Politicians 

Be Able To Agree?

Election Day should have marked an end to some of the shouting that’s taken hold of our politics. However, with the fiscal cliff crisis in Washington only narrowly averted, and more legislative brinksmanship apparently on the way, that may have been too much to hope for.

However, there is one thing on which all sides should be able to agree: Common sense on immigration issues.

There’s popular support for that, of course. A common theme between President Obama and those of so many others up and down the ballot was that people who support fair and commonsense solutions to fixing our broken immigration system tended to do very well.

It’s clear that immigrant voters played a huge role in re-electing the President. And immigration played a huge role in mobilizing the Latino and immigrant vote, in part due to unprecedented voter mobilization work by the labor movement, community groups and ethnic communities.

But it wasn’t just candidates who won on the issue. The state of Maryland put their own version of the Dream Act on the ballot, to allow young immigrants who graduate from high school and know America as their home to pay in-state tuition at Maryland’s colleges. Voters in Maryland resoundingly rejected attacks on immigrants and resoundingly voted for a basic and needed immigration reform. Immigration solutions are smart politics. Marylanders can soon expect to discover that it’s smart policy, too, as the state begins to retain more of its most talented high school graduates and see them get to work creating jobs.

And it’s clear that this dynamic will get stronger over time. The current generation of young voters – millennials – are the most diverse voting group in American history. And the generation rising just behind them are even more diverse.

In Nassau County and across America, immigration issues present an opportunity for leaders willing to take them seriously, and a challenge for politicians at risk of being left behind.

President Obama apparently recognized this when he explicitly called out immigration reform as part of his second-term agenda in his election night remarks. So have a number of Republicans, who have begun to call for a change in the party’s recent hard-line stance against immigration reform.

That’s welcome news. But now comes the need to get to work. Working our way towards immigration solutions that work for native and immigrant Long Islanders alike is a challenge too big to leave to one party. Let’s hope, for once, that the folks in Washington can agree.

Maryann Sinclair Slutsky is the executive director of Long Island Wins, a communications organization promoting commonsense policy solutions to local immigration issues. longislandwins.com.