I’m fine being known as a disability rights advocate. So, you might want to dismiss me for suggesting that we should step back from all the talk about mass shootings and immigration and revisit a law limiting disability rights that and is currently in the Senate. It’s useful to see how the bill the GOP passed in the Congress informs the discussion on mass slayings and immigration policy.
The ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (H.R.620) modifies the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. The ADA is a civil rights law designed to ensure people with disabilities have the same access to employment and public spaces as those who do not have disabling conditions. It’s pretty basic “Liberty and Justice for All” stuff. The ADA took effect in 1992 after a two year grace period for businesses to learn about the law and make adjustments as needed. HR.620 would make it harder for persons with disabilities to exercise their right to public accommodation and also provide businesses with an amnesty period before they would be held responsible for compliance with the ADA.
Opponents of HR.620 point out that denying peoples civil rights while giving amnesty to businesses who have broken a law that has been in place since 1990 is a miscarriage of justice. The irony of HR.620 is the fact that it is largely supported by the same politicians who are opposed to doing anything to curb the country’s gun violence plague and are opposed to a path to citizenship for undocumented aliens. Their argument appears to be that any action to curb gun violence would infringe on individual’s rights and a path to citizenship would be giving amnesty to people who are in violation of the law.
There are two important lessons here:
1. If the GOP was as open to denying access to assault weapons as it is to denying the civil rights of disabled people we could significantly limit the frequency of mass slayings in the United States
2. If the GOP was as open to providing people here without legal documents a path to citizenship as it does to providing amnesty to violators of the ADA the DACA issue would be solved and we’d have a bunch more hard working, law abiding, U.S. citizens.
HR.620 was written to protect what is ironically referred to as “the hospitality industry.” The gun industry has successfully reinterpreted the Second Amendment’s words regarding the necessity of a well regulated militia as any gun, anywhere, any time. Why we would want to compound the challenges of a shrinking labor pool by putting up all sorts of barriers to the hard working immigrants who have been the backbone of the United States for so many generations is anybody’s guess.
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