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On immigration, listen to civil rights icons

United States of America social security and green card with US flag on the background. Immigration concept. Closeup with shallow depth of field.

As an immigrant who happily came to the United States, “waiting in the immigration line” to become a citizen, I was disheartened to see President Biden propose a “comprehensive” immigration reform offering amnesty to over 10 million people here illegally. His suggestions never gained much support in Congress.  

However now, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and allies have produced a new plan – pass a slightly smaller version of the president’s amnesty through the budget “reconciliation” process, which isn’t subject to filibuster protections.  

In 1990, after my husband took a job in Chicago, shortly thereafter we knew that we wanted America to be our home. My husband had a work visa and with the help of his company we started the process of obtaining our citizenship. It took our family 11 years to obtain citizenship. Our system is not perfect, however, it certainly fosters a stronger appreciation for this country. In order to obtain citizenship, we had to prove we were contributing to society and were awarded citizenship based on merit, something nearly every other country does. 

 Amnesty is a bad idea on the merits and shoehorning it into a reconciliation bill would make Washington’s dysfunction worse. It would set a precedent that either party can implement a sweeping, partisan agenda with a bare majority in the Senate – instead of pursuing bipartisan reforms that can attract widespread support. 

Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema are both moderate Democrats. They can protect Arizona’s workers – and the Senate as an institution – by opposing Schumer’s reconciliation amnesty. 

At a time when 7.6 million Americans  including almost 210,000 Arizonans  are unemployed, it makes no sense to give work permits to millions of people here illegally. Recent studies have shown that immigration can depress the income of native-born workers, especially ones at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder.  

It doesn’t take an advanced degree in economics to understand that tight labor markets help downtrodden workers. That’s why civil rights leaders – from Booker T.Washington and Frederick Douglas in the 19th century to Cesar Chavez in the 20th – spoke out against unchecked immigration. It makes it harder for vulnerable Americans to bargain for better pay and working conditions. 

 Coretta Scott King, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s wife, warned that “cheap labor” from increased immigration would devastate communities of color. Barbara Jordan, a pioneer in the Democratic Party and the first Southern Black woman elected to the House of Representatives, said it best: “It is both a right and a responsibility of a democratic society to manage immigration so that it serves the national interest.” 

Considering that almost 5.4 million more Americans are unemployed than before the pandemic, it’s absurd to argue that amnesty serves the national interest. Chuck Schumer might not recognize that. But hopefully, Sinema and Kelly do.  

Kim Tessier works in accounting in the Phoenix metro area. 



  1. We need our Senators to strand up for America and stop this INVASION OF ILLEGAL ALIEN IMMIGRANTS

  2. Mass immigration, both legal and illegal, is used by corporations to keep working class Americans from uniting, organizing, and getting better pay.

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