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Ted Kennedy on Immigration Reform

Ted Kennedy on Immigration Reform

Ted Kennedy’s Legacy and Contributions to Immigration Reform

Ted Kennedy, a United States Senator from Massachusetts for 47 years, was regarded as one of the most influential lawmakers in American history. He ardently campaigned for social justice, civil rights, healthcare, education, and, most notably, immigration. For decades, Ted Kennedy led the charge for immigration reform, and his contributions remain vital to this day as the US continues to grapple with the immigration issue.

Early Immigration Advocacy

Ted Kennedy’s involvement in immigration legislation began in the early 1960s. In the early years, Kennedy concentrated his efforts on cutting back the National Origins Quota System, which had been in place since the 1920s. Kennedy became a bipartisan advocate for immigration reform and worked hard to craft landmark legislation that aimed to end racial discrimination against immigrant groups. In the 1960s and 70s, Kennedy was instrumental in reforming the immigration system and eliminating racist quotas.

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 was one of Kennedy’s most significant early achievements. This act increased the number of immigrants allowed into the U.S. and got rid of discriminatory quotas established against certain immigrant groups. The legislation notably prioritized the allocation of visas to close family members, making it possible for family members to reunite with their loved ones. Kennedy’s efforts at reform provide a powerful example of how impactful the legislative process can be when lawmakers work together.

Pioneering Comprehensive Immigration Reform

In the subsequent years, Ted Kennedy mounted bipartisan support for several measures aimed at comprehensive immigration reform. One of Kennedy’s most notable contributions was the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, which he advocated for alongside Senators John McCain, Harry Reid, and Lindsey Graham. The measure aimed to address the status of the undocumented population, strengthen border security, reform employment-based immigration, and improve employee verification systems.

Even though the bill failed to pass, Senator Kennedy never gave up on his advocacy efforts. As he recognized in his many speeches, the need for immigration reform could never be more critical, and as the United States continued to grapple with the issue, Kennedy kept leading the advocacy effort.

Kennedy’s Legacy in Immigration and Beyond

Ted Kennedy’s impact on immigration reform legislation is undisputed, but his contributions to American immigration policy extend beyond that. Senator Kennedy was a firm believer in immigration as a fundamental American value dating back to the country’s founding. He believed that the U.S. is strengthened by the contributions of immigrants, and he spent the majority of his life fighting to ensure that newcomers are treated fairly and are given the same opportunities as long-standing residents.

Kennedy’s legacy as a champion of social justice continues to this day, influencing a new generation of lawmakers who are similarly committed to making the United States a more equitable society. To honor his life and legacy, lawmakers must continue to pass comprehensive immigration reform that recognizes the contributions that immigrants make to our country.

In Conclusion

Ted Kennedy worked tirelessly throughout his long legislative career to advocate for the rights of the dispossessed and marginalized. Perhaps more than any of his other legislative achievements, it was his commitment to immigration reform that defines his legacy. His contributions changed the lives of countless immigrants and set the foundation for a more encompassing, compassionate, and fair American society. Ted Kennedy’s unwavering commitment to immigration and social justice reform reminds Americans today that positive change is possible, even in the most challenging of circumstances.

Ted Kennedy had been in the Senate for less than three years when he was given the important job of pushing a bill which hoped to ban the quota system surrounding United States immigration policy. The quota system in question had made it impossible for any immigrant originating from anywhere but western Europe to come to America legally.

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 became the door which many Latin American immigrants used to enter the United States. The number of immigrants who came to America was so high that it permanently altered the immigration demographic. To this day, the largest number of immigrants in the United States originate from Latin American countries.

There were many immigration policies that took place under Kennedy’s guidance. One of them, passed in 1980, created a system for resettlement of refugees in the United States. The number of immigrants who qualified under this bill tripled under Kennedy’s plan. In 1986, Kennedy helped pass a bill that granted amnesty to roughly 2.7 million illegal immigrants in the United States. The same bill also was responsible for punishments against employers who hired illegal immigrants. Latest immigration news reports that this immigration policy will be responsible for laying the groundwork for President Obama’s proposed immigration reform bill, which hopes to accomplish the same things on a larger scale.

The final important immigration policy that Kennedy helped with was a 1990 bill that changed the immigration system for legal immigrants, allowing for more highly skilled immigrant workers to enter the American workforce.

The most important immigration policy that Kennedy tried and failed to get passed was a bill that would have given roughly 12 million illegal immigrants a quick path to citizenship as well as fixing problems within the system for prosecuting employers who hired illegal immigrants, which he worked on with former President George Bush and Senator John McCain.