Blogging mostly about mundane stuff like, immigration, Workers' Compensation and other immigrant related activities.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

America's Ineffective Immigration Policy

Our current immigration policy punishes the hard work of immigrants and fractures their families. It does so by perpetuating a system in which the labor of undocumented immigrants is essential to our economy and infrastructure, but in turn denies them any hope of achieving permanent residency or ever becoming citizens in this county.

It is common, if unspoken knowledge that without immigrant labor many industries such as construction, agriculture and manufacturing could simply not function. The inherent needs of our economy have long ago necessitated a steady influx of immigrant labor. The past 20 years have resulted in millions of illegal immigrants arriving to this country, establishing underground lives that force them into a cash economy full of individuals all to eager to take advantage. Yet despite over 300 yearly deaths suffered by immigrants attempting to cross our borders and confrontations from extreme groups who increasingly call for their mass round up and deportation. They continue to come a rate estimated to be over 700,000 per year.

Any real and effective immigration policy or reform will require a means and method for illegal immigrant families to remain united. It can be argued that any effort to break up these families will result in such families openly violating these laws in an effort to protect their loved ones. There are millions of illegal immigrants whose children are U.S. born citizens and the laws do afford these children an opportunity to sponsor such parents for legal residency once such child reaches the age of 18 years old, but the process can take years and is currently backlogged.

Recent legislative changes in various states such as California, New Mexico, Texas and Illinois further complicated matters. These states have passed laws which allow illegal immigrants to set up bank accounts by using their Matricula Consular as a valid form of identification. The state of Illinois has gone even further by creating programs that allow illegal immigrants to purchase homes by using a Tax identification Number (TIN) instead of a Social Security Number. A TIN can now be easily be obtained from the Internal Revenue Service with a proof of a Matricula Consular. The net effect is that the IRS cares little about the individuals legal residency status, but only that they pay their fair share of taxes.

Nevertheless the aforementioned changes have created business opportunities for entrepreneurial immigrants who suddenly have access to capital that was previously unavailable.

Unfortunately, our media fails to deliver a real understanding of the complex issues surrounding illegal immigration. Therefore the general public only sees the images and sound bites that our media creates in an effort of achieving certain ratings points. Our media has no real incentive to devote the necessary time and energy into a serious analysis of the problem.

It was encouraging to see a broad piece of immigration reform legislation being introduced by Sens. Ed Kennedy (D-Mass) and John McCain (R-Ariz) in 2005. The proposed legislation would expand green card quotas and eliminate the backlogs that have stymied longtime undocumented workers. The Secure America and Orderly Immigration Bill of 2005 has widespread support, but it remains to be seen whether Republicans can truly find common ground on this crucial piece of legislation. A small group within the Republican party continue to strongly oppose this piece of legislation. This group within the Republican party is calling for stricter enforcement of existing laws and it opposes creating any new paths towards naturalization.

Our legislators like the rest of our society have found it difficult to find common ground on the issue of illegal immigration. While our legislators continue to debate the fine points of immigration reform, countless immigrants go on with their daily lives. These immigrants live among us and in fact live lives much like we do, with the exception of the opportunities we probably take for granted. The vast majority of these immigrants simply want to work and provide for their families in the U.S. and abroad.

The 20+ years of ineffective immigration policies have allowed the influx 10+ million illegal immigrants into our country. Even if took steps to pass laws to deport these individual such move would be an impossible task because these immigrants have long ago established roots in this country with lives that include friends and families. Therefore no amount of anti-immigrant legislation will ever result in their voluntarily leaving the U.S. for their native countries.

The report we see on the nightly news, the reports of our broken borders, the reports of our rising crime rate associated with immigrants and the arguments that immigrants are taking over our jobs are just plain wrong. The fact is that new immigrants both legal and illegal don't contribute to te crime rate anymore than other segments fo the population. Furthermore, few of us can point to an illegal immigrant who has broken the law or is contributing to the rising crime rate of our town or city. As for those disappearing jobs, you can look at globalization as the major contributing factor.

As for the argument that immigrants take away jobs you and I are willing and able to perform, well I can only speak for myself, but I'm perfectly content with my cushy job behind a desk and all to willing to let some immigrant take that back breaking, dirty, underpaid and unappreciated labor intensive occupation any day of the week.

No comments: