Critics of H.R. 5882, a bill that would would allow visas that have gone unused due to bureaucratic delays to be "recaptured" and issued to family- or employment-based legal immigrants, claim it will needlesly create new visas. The fact is that "recapturing" lost visas would not authorize any new green cards; it would allow the government to issue green cards that Congress has already authorized.
While the U.S. government has poured billions upon billions of dollars into immigration enforcement, the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States has increased dramatically. Rather than reducing undocumented immigration, this enforcement-without-reform strategy has diverted the resources and attention of federal authorities to the pursuit of undocumented immigrants who are drawn here by the labor needs of our own economy.
The “SAVE Act” was introduced in November 2007 by Reps. Heath Shuler (D-NC) and Brian Bilbray (R-CA). A companion bill (S. 2368) has been introduced in the Senate by Sens. Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA). The “SAVE Act” is an immigration enforcement-only package that would dramatically expand the error-ridden Basic Pilot electronic employment verification system and make a number of harsh and unnecessary changes to current law . The Basic Pilot system is currently used by only 30,000 employers, but would expand to cover over 6 million employers in just four years – roughly a 20,000 percent increase. Beyond that, the bill seeks to increase the Border Patrol and spend more resources on the southern border, codify recently withdrawn DHS regulations related to the Social Security Administration “no match” letters, expand local police responsibilities to include immigration enforcement, and a number of other enforcement measures. Absent from the bill are any provisions that would address the more than 12 million people in the US without status.
The current political debate over undocumented immigrants in the United States has largely ignored the plight of undocumented children. Yet children account for 1.8 million, or 15 percent, of the undocumented immigrants now living in this country. These children have, for the most part, grown up in the United States and received much of their primary and secondary educations here. But without a means to legalize their status, they are seldom able to go on to college and cannot work legally in this country. Moreover, at any time, they can be deported to countries they barely know. This wasted talent imposes economic and emotional costs on undocumented students themselves and on U.S. society as a whole. Denying undocumented students, most of whom are Hispanic, the opportunity to go to college and join the skilled workforce sends the wrong message to Hispanics about the value of a college education-and the value that U.S. society places on their education-at a time when raising the educational attainment of the Hispanic population is increasingly important to the nation's economic health. Read more...
Aging populations and the growing need to provide long-term care to the elderly are among the leading demographic, political, and social challenges facing industrialized countries, including the United States. As of 2004, 34.7 million people in this country had lived to their 65th birthday or beyond, accounting for about 12 percent of the U.S. population. Nearly 90 percent of the elderly population is native-born. By 2030, the number of older people in the United States is likely to double, reaching 72 million—or nearly one out of every five people. The aging of larger numbers of Americans will require significant increases in financial and human resources for healthcare support and other social services. As a result, immigrants will continue to play a significant role in the growth of the U.S. labor force in general and of the direct-care workforce in particular. It is in the best interests of long-term care clients, providers, and workers if governments and private donors foster high-quality training and placement programs rather than leaving the future of the direct-care industry to chance. Read more...
Since 9/11 the watchword in the debate over immigration reform has been “security.” As a result, most policymakers and pundits now approach the subject of immigration largely from a law-enforcement perspective. However, the current border-enforcement strategy, which tends to lump together terrorists and undocumented jobseekers from abroad as groups to be kept out, ignores the causes of undocumented immigration and fuels the expansion of the people-smuggling networks through which a foreign terrorist might enter the country.
For the undocumented in America there is little doubt that the iniquities of the father are visited upon the child. On November 7th, for instance, an astounding 71 percent of voters in Arizona passed a referendum (Proposition 300) which states that only U.S. citizens and legal residents are eligible for in-state college tuition rates, tuition and fee waivers, and financial assistance. These are kids brought by their parents to this country as young children, in many instances infants in their mothers’ arms, and in every instance as children for whom the decision to come here was made without their participation. And yet, they shall pay the price, perhaps with their futures. The same referendum would deny childcare to the U.S.-citizen children of undocumented parents. Yes, the child is a citizen of the United States, but voters in Arizona have concluded that to provide the child with care is to reward the parents for the sin of seeking a better life in America.
I do a daily radio talk show on Radio Campesina in Phoenix and, clearly, since the November elections callers are once more allowing themselves to dream of the day their hard, hidden existence comes to an end. Their dreams are tentative and cautious, but nonetheless hope has been resurrected. Yet in Arizona hope is interspersed with anger. Four anti-immigrant referendums passed overwhelmingly, one of which, Proposition 300, will impose steep tuition increases for undocumented community-college and university students. Most legal observers believe it is constitutional. The only resolution lies now in the hands of Congress. Delay in passing comprehensive immigration reform, or at the very least the DREAM Act (which would provide a path to lawful permanent residence for hundreds of thousands of undocumented high-school graduates), will have immediate and tragic consequences for thousands of Latino kids in Arizona.