Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Update on immigration

I was watching C-Span and a representative of La Raza was discussing the talks on the table about how to "align U.S. policy with economic reality." This involves giving the 10-12 million workers who are already here illegally a mechanism to come forward without being deported. It was proposed in the Senate yesterday and a long way from becoming law, but is at least a possibility.

Here's what would happen: those who come forward would be able to stay in the job or industry they're working in for another 6 years. After those 6 years, they will be able to pay a fine of $1000 and receive temporary legal residence. After 5 years, if they have proven to be a law-abiding and tax-paying individual, they will be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.

This seems like an excellent way to incorporate them more fully into society. This article tells 5 reasons why an amnesty plan is a good idea. Something like this needs to accompany greater enforcement of anti-illegal immigration laws.

One problem I see is that during this debate the illegal workers and those trying to come here to work have been essentially equated with terrorists. Therefore, the argument would lead, they pose just as great of a threat to our national security. While there are domestic crime issues like gangs and drugs that are probably directly linked to the influx of Mexicans and Central Americans, making the link to terrorism is illogical. It seems that this inflation of the threat will not subside, since immigration is a hot campaign topic. Some senators will continue to argue that illegal immigration of any kind threatens our national security, but I hope others will not give up on the logical point that an amnesty program would be a positive step in aligning policy with reality.
The article I linked says "The nation's security is far stronger if we know who's here to frame houses, change linens, bus tables and build microchips--and who shouldn't be here to profit from true criminal activity or worse."


Will said...

Fareed Zakaria said something really interesting on TV Sunday, and repeated it on The Daily Show last night. He said that a guest worker program that is currently being debated in Congress would do more to hurt immigration than help it. He said that Europe has guest worker programs, and all that they have accomplished is to further isolate foreign workers. Because it never rewards them with citizenship; essentially exacerbating their living situations more. He wonders why would we copy a system from Europeans that has only resulted in race-rioting in France last fall, and continues to do nothing to lift immigrants out of poverty in their societies. Immigration is something that this country has always done well, why mess with it now?

Robert Farley said...

Right. Guest worker programs also leave the workers open to tremendous abuse at the hands of their employers.

Of course, that happens now, anyway.

Cavour said...
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Jesco said...

My understanding is that the guest worker program would provide the opportunity to actually become legal residents. They will definitely be less exploited or abused if they have proper documentation and aren't afraid to go to the police or hospitals.