PAYING ATTENTION! with Tom Duggan
By: Tom Duggan – May, 2008
While the politicians and the American people debate about what to do with illegal immigrants and whether or not to give them a pathway to citizenship, nobody seems to be doing anything to help the people who followed the law, did the right thing and are having a difficult time navigating the maze of government red tape and confusing legal requirements to become a citizen legally … that is until now.
Sal Lupoli from Sal’s Riverwalk and Lawrence Mayor Michael Sullivan have come up with a plan to assist legal immigrants by streamlining the process and making it easier for them to become citizens of the United States.
“We are not talking about a program to take illegal immigrants and bring them through the process,” Lupoli said at a press conference last month. “We are talking about legal immigrants who are working and want to stay and lead productive lives in the city of Lawrence and in the United States of America.”
Lupoli said that the pilot program will help ten employees who are in the country legally, by providing one-on-one help with cumbersome and confusing legal documents, translation services, English as a Second Language classes, enrolling them in other educational classes required for citizenship, and easing the burden associated with becoming a citizen of the United States.
A reward, if you will, for doing the right thing.
Without realizing it, Sal Lupoli and Mayor Sullivan have touched on something that, if successful, will have national implications far beyond helping legal workers become U.S. citizens.
By paying attention to the needs of legal immigrants and streamlining the process for them in a private-public partnership at the local level, they’ve cleared a hurdle that creates a new incentive for people to follow the law and come here legally.
And, if this pilot program is successful, the Lupoli/Sullivan team will be contributing something else: clarity on the national stage where it is desperately needed.
As the rhetoric about illegals has intensified over the last several years, those who favor border enforcement and deporting illegals have been cleverly labeled “anti-immigrant.”
It’s a label that has been very effective in distorting the issue and clouding the debate. And it has resonated among immigrants who are being told that the American people do not want them here.
By its very existence, this new immigrant assistance program will show new immigrants that, as long as they are willing to go through the process, we are willing to help them through it.
It will show those who have fallen for the propaganda that they are not wanted, that America is a nation that loves immigrants no matter were they come from … as long as they come here legally.
We are even willing to help them make the process easier. Well, at least Sal Lupoli and Mayor Sullivan will, for now.
As someone who has always been staunchly pro-immigrant, I applaud Mayor Sullivan and Sal Lupoli as well as Ralph Carerro, and the rest of the team assembled to work on this problem.
Their program shows that determination and effort can solve any problem as long as there are those who are serious about clearly defining what the problem is, and then doing what it takes to get it resolved.
Tom Duggan is the president of Valley Patriot, Inc., a former Lawrence School Committeeman. You can email your comments to Tdugjr@aol.com .