The 2006 midterm elections have come and gone and there was good news for those with more than just a passing interest in immigration and issues important to immigrants and minorities. It was a Democratic sweep all around the country and while we are not tied to support of any one party, the Democrats are in charge at Capitol Hill. Among the Democrats elected to the 110th Congress, by our count, more than a fifth of them are considered moderates which is a good sign. There is a very high likelihood that immigration matters will be handled with more sensitivity than a hate campaign that we have come to expect from the outgoing Congress.
It is noteworthy however that President Bush was at odds with his party on immigration reform and other matters favorable to immigrants, something which the present should be commended. Therefore a combination of President Bush and a Democratic Congress is indeed a very welcome development. Take the building of the fence on the US and Mexican border. Homeland Security Department inspector general Richard L. Skinner has been quoted as saying building the proposed fence when the Mexican and Canadian borders are taken into account could cost upwards of $30 billion. That is a total waste of tax payer dollars that could be used more effectively at a fraction of the cost for other enforcement measures that could more effectively curtail illegal immigration.
The Democratic Congress should not approve appropriations to fund the Secure Fence Act as that is not living to the spirit of what the American electorate sent them to Washington to do. A much more sober immigration reform needs to take place devoid of hate and innuendo about the intentions of immigrants.
This paper encouraged all African immigrants to actively participate in the process last month and by all accounts, you did so overwhelmingly. African immigrants, especially the Somali community, in Minnesota’s Congressional District were instrumental ion the victory of Keith Ellison thereby making history possible by having Minnesota send to Congress its first non-Caucasian Congress person but also the country’s first Muslim Congress person.
One development that warrants mention is the fact that we did not just come out to vote but were active in the organization of the various campaigns for both major parties. Continuing a trend began by the likes of Henry Ongeri, who was active in the 2004 election with ACT-Minnesota (Americans Coming Together) and held senior positions in the organizing, people like Nimco Ahmed were high in seniority in Amy Klobuchar’s campaign and later assigned to Keith Ellison as Amy’s election looked imminent.
Most importantly, Africans in Minnesota have early on signed to both major parties and no one party can claim a monopoly on this important and emerging voting constituency. While the Democrats have the edge with the African immigrant community in the state, they are slowly realizing they cannot take it for granted. And indeed they shouldn’t as they have done with other communities of color here.