The stars continue to align for comprehensive immigration reform.  The President continues to call for movement this year, Congress is beginning the legislative process, and DHS is realigning their priorities to focus on the root causes of undocumented immigration.

FIRST, at yesterday’s press conference marking the end of his first 100 days, President Obama stated:

“we want to move this process.  We can’t continue with a broken immigration system. It’s not good for anybody. It’s not good for American workers. It’s dangerous for Mexican would-be workers who are trying to cross a dangerous border.”

SECOND, at 2pm today Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will hold his first hearing as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Refugees entitled “Comprehensive Immigration Reform:  Can We Do It and How?”  The answer will be a resounding YES.  Featured will be notable witnesses including former chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan; Dr. Joel Hunter, a Member of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships; Thomas Manger, Chief of Police, Montgomery County, MD; Former INS Commissioner Doris Meissner; and Eliseo Medina of the Service Employees International Union.  Together these witnesses will tell a comprehensive story of the immediate need for immigration reform.

THIRD, DHS announced that it will re-tool its worksite enforcement activities to focus on employers who knowingly hire unauthorized workers.  Rather than respond to “tips” about undocumented workers, ICE will conduct thorough investigations into employers involved in trafficking, smuggling, document fraud, and other violations of immigration law.  The new process will allow more unscrupulous employers to be criminally prosecuted, rather than simply rounding up undocumented workers and declaring victory.  While DHS appears to be taking note that the same old “deportation only” strategies are not working and that we must look to the root causes of undocumented immigration, it is  only a first step toward fundamentally reforming the underlying broken immigration system.

The positive signs don’t stop there.  All over the country immigrant supporters are mobilizing in support of comprehensive immigration reform.  Religious leaders, economists, and labor union leaders are publicly stating their support for moving forward.  And Americans everywhere are saying that they want a real, practical solution to our immigration woes – not more rhetoric and throwing money at the problem.

The U.S. cannot afford to squander this opportunity.