No one why has been reading my posts is likely to complain that I am biased in favor of the Republicans on immigration. I like to think that I am leaving no stone unturned in pointing out the racism, hate and hypocrisy which the Republican presidential candidates, both those left standing and those who have already, (thankfully) dropped out have been exploiting in order to appeal to middle and working class white voters, who have so much to lose economically if the Republicans take over the White House and Congress this fall.
(I make an exception for Jon Huntsman and Ron Paul, but neither one was ever a serious Republican presidential candidate - though Paul might play a crucial and valuable role as the spoiler for the Republicans this year if he runs as a third party candidate.)
But at least we know where the Republicans stand. They are hard line on illegal immigration, but, for the most part, at least publicly, support legal immigration (as long as they are not named Grassley). This is why, when a client of mine, as occasionally happens, needs Congressional assistance with an immigration issue, especially one relating to legal status (as is the case with almost all my clients, since I practice mainly business immigration), I have little hesitation in seeking help from a Republican Congressional or Senatorial office, when appropriate. Whenever I have done so, I have received a prompt, courteous and helpful response.
This is not to say that Democratic elected officials have been any different. Generally, the ones I have contacted have also been very helpful. But not always. Recently, I needed to ask for Congressional assistance with a client who has legal status and is being sponsored for a different legal status, but whose case is being delayed purely through apparent negligence on the part of a government agency which has already approved the case on the merits.
First, I tried to contact the office of the Representative for the client's Congressional district, a Democrat with an impressive record of supporting civil rights and minority voting rights, and, I am quite, sure, a strong supporter of immigrant rights as well. It took several days even to find out which staff member was in charge of immigration in that office, and when I was finally given the correct information, the person in question did not return my phone calls.
Finally I contacted the office of one of the two Republican senators for the state in question, someone with as hard line voting record on immigration issues as anyone else. I was immediately put through to the immigration staff member, who listened to my explanation of the situation carefully and immediately said that the office would do its best to look into it and try to help. One can only have the greatest respect for the professionalism and courtesy of the Senator's office in question. I certainly do.
The reason I mention this is that there may be a parallel on a larger scale. We know where almost all Republicans stand on immigration. As much has we may disagree with their draconian line toward unauthorized immigrants, as much as we may wish that more of them had voted for the DREAM Act (as three Senate Republicans did - while five Democrats whose votes were crucial to passage either failed to show up or voted against it, with no prodding or intervention from President Obama that I have ever read about), at least they are a known quantity.
If someone who is in this country or wants to come here is playing by the rules, convoluted and irrational as they often are, almost all Republicans say they will support that person and I believe them. On the other hand, when the Democrats pledge to reform the immigration system, give relief to those who are suffering most from our harsh laws and create a better climate for immigration in America, how far can we rely on them? 400,000 deportations a year, "Secure Communities" and Section 287(g) have to be among the answers to this question. Let us hope they will not be the only ones.
Roger Algase is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been practicing business immigration law in New York City for more than 20 years.