June 23, 2013

Sen. Hirono making own luck, path with immigration

Sometimes luck is all about hard work. For more than a year, Mazie Hirono designed her campaign for the U.S. Senate around her inspiring story of fleeing Japan with her mother in 1947 to immigrate to America and live in Hawaii.

Parts of the successful 2012 campaign held up her mother's desperate life in Fukushima; other parts were about the voyage in steerage on board the President Cleveland and upon arrival, how hard work saw them through early poverty in Honolulu.

Hirono's story is the story of America and deserved to be retold, even if by the eighth TV commercial, voters glazed over the saga.

If there was an issue that defined Hirono, it was that she was born in a foreign country and succeeded in America and, therefore, immigration is something to be encouraged, not feared.

Imagine her good luck that immigration reform became part of the daily dialogue in the campaign for president and that afterwards, the losing Republicans realized that a way to attract Hispanic voters would be to encourage, not reject, a new immigration bill.

Hirono is far from being a decision-maker on the issue — that designation falls to the Senate's bipartisan "Gang of Eight" — but Hiro- no is a big voice in the debate and is being recognized.

The Associated Press started off a story on the behind-the-scenes negotiations with the immigration bill: "For all the soothing words she heard from fellow Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii never had a chance to win a relatively modest change to far-reaching immigration legislation.

"Instead, the hidden hand of the Gang of Eight reached out and rejected her attempt to create an immigration preference for close relatives of citizens with an extreme hardship."

That was in May; since then, Hirono has moved her lobbying to the public arena, building coalitions and adopting a stronger tone.

On Thursday, she was tweeting: "The immigration bill is unfair for women. Help me & my female colleagues fix that by supporting my amendment."

Earlier in the week, Hirono, according to the AP, was on the attack, saying the present version of the bill was "unfair to women because of educational and career inequities in other countries."

"For this immigration bill to institutionalize and set in concrete the unequal opportunities women have in other countries is not the way to go," said Hirono.

In a Washington Post interview, Hirono referred back to her own understanding of immigration.

Read the entire piece here: http://www.staradvertiser.com/editorialspremium/20130623_Sen_Hirono_making_own_luck_path_with_immigration.html?id=212585731&id=212585731&c=n

By:  Richard Borreca
Source: Honolulu Star-Advertiser