Jeffrey Heller interview: The plight of immigrants drives his cause for justice

On his bike trip, Heller found Americans open to a sensible solution to the immigration issue. Photo: Immigrant workers toil in the fields from dawn to dusk

MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, Md., June 3, 2012 — The Washington Times Communities ran the first two parts of my interview with Jeffrey Heller on May 22 and May 25, 2012. Jeffrey’s answers to the questions demonstrate an unparalleled knowledge of the immigration laws, their pitfalls and how they should be changed.

His recommendations as well as his analysis of how immigration is being implemented does not reflect an ideological mind set, but rather is a pragmatic approach that at times sounds right of center and at other times left of center.

To recap, Jeffrey rode over 1,000 miles from the Upper West Side of Manhattan to Nashville, calling attention to immigrants’ rights. He did it alone, with no team support and relying solely on leg power for navigation.

21st Century Pacifist:  Tell us more about what you learned on your ride.

Jeffrey Heller:

Jeffrey Heller pauses along the road to Nashville

It’s only anecdotal: I didn’t do a scientific survey, but in some of the most so-called “conservative” parts of the country, everyone with whom I talked about immigration issues was sympathetic to the idea of making the system sensible and giving a break to refugees from persecution and economic migrants.

If our leaders act like leaders and explain how deeply we hurt ourselves with our current policies, and how those policies contradict the religious and philosophic values on which we pride ourselves, I think we could have comprehensive immigration reform that would enhance America’s wealth and prosperity. For starters, just think of all the houses unauthorized immigrants would buy if we would let them!

Remember that surveys showed that most Americans, and most members of Congress of both parties, support the DREAM Act, a law that would give lawful status to kids who were brought here and grew up here and went to school here and who are American in all but name. A handful of Congressional Republicans killed the DREAM Act, thwarting the will of the people. The law makes so much sense, I suspect that not all who derailed it were actually opposed to it; they were angling for political advantage among those who have been riled up by loud and foolish talk — lies  — about how immigrants supposedly threaten and harm us.  

Children of immigrant workers play marbles as their parents work in the fields.

Calm, reasonable talk about the issues would lead to support for sensible reform.  We could shut down the immigration jails and bureaucratic nonsense that cost us billions every year, focus on national security instead of sorting people into silly categories, and let the free market and decent human nature govern our business efforts and family relations, instead of having Washington legislators and bureaucrats stick their tentacles into our most personal and private affairs.  

“Keep Washington’s hands off!” the people say, except when it comes to immigration, where they demand central planning that the Soviets would be proud of.  But if they really knew — if we could stop the shouting and tell it like it is — Americans are smart and goodhearted that they would be happy to see us get back on the right track.


Read also:

Biking 1,000 miles for human rights: Jeffrey Heller’s journey for refugees

Jeffrey Heller’s amazing bike ride to support immigration reform



Mario Salazar, the 21st Century Pacifist, is a bleeding heart liberal, agnostic, exercise fanatic, Redskin fan, technophile, civil engineer, combat infantry veteran, jewelry maker, amateur computer programmer, Environmental engineer, Colombian-born, free thinker, and, not surprisingly, pacifist. You can find his articles - ranging from politics to cooking a mean brisket - in 21st Century Pacifist <> at The Washington Times Communities. Follow Mario on Twitter @chibcharus #TWTC and Facebook at Mario Salazar.

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Mario Salazar

Mario Salazar is a combat infantry Vietnam Vet, world traveler, renaissance reconnaissance man, pacifist, metal smith, glass artisan, computer programmer and he has a Master of Science in Civil/Environmental Engineering.  Now retired from the Environmental Protection Agency and living in Montgomery County, Mario will share with you his life, his thoughts, his musing on living in yet another century of change.  He will also try to convey his joy of being old.

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