The Amnesty To End All Amnesties
No one expects it to pass in its present form. Legislation on controversial matters inevitably is subject to a series of amendments. But the current bill, introduced in the House of Representatives last week, aiming to repair our broken immigration system lays a solid foundation for restoring our proud tradition as a nation of immigrants.
Naysayers on both ends of the political spectrum already are knocking it as either "too liberal" or "too conservative," which is an indication that the bill — introduced by Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., and co-sponsored by more than 90 other House Democrats — is indeed fairly balanced.
Undocumented immigrants would have to pay an application fee, a $500 fine for those who entered the country after turning 16, and demonstrate that they have contributed to U.S. society through work, school, the military or community service. But then each would be given a six-year conditional visa and a path to a green card and to eventually obtain U.S. citizenship.
And that has the conservative naysayers asking how anyone could be offering amnesty to millions of lawbreakers who are taking American jobs at a time when so many U.S. citizens are out of work.
Yet to stop illegal immigration in the future, the bill also supports strong border security and immigration enforcement. And to make sure that future hires are legally in the country, the bill also creates an employment verification system.
And that has the liberal naysayers complaining that this bill should be more lenient and less focused on enforcement. They say immigration should not be treated as a national security issue.
But just as the conservatives are wrong for opposing any form of amnesty, the liberals are wrong for opposing any form of enforcement.
The conservatives need to accept the fact that we would not be giving new jobs to millions of undocumented immigrants; we merely would be legalizing about 5 percent of our current work force. Most of these people have well-planted roots in this country. In spite of the obstacles, many have managed to survive and eventually thrive while making significant contributions to our society — by taking care of our kids and elderly, washing our restaurant dishes, cleaning our bathrooms, mowing our lawns, harvesting our crops and doing all the other menial jobs most Americans reject.
The fact that more U.S.
On the other extreme, the liberals need to learn how to live with the fact that immigration is indeed a huge national security problem; in this age of terrorism, an open-borders policy is a terrible idea. In fact, perhaps the strongest argument for an amnesty program is our need to identify everyone who is living in this country for the sake of our national security.
The liberals must understand that this comprehensive reform legislation would have to be the amnesty to end all amnesties, that after the current undocumented immigrants were legalized, we would have zero tolerance for future illegal immigration. When we gave amnesty to undocumented immigrants in 1986, the legislation failed to reduce illegal immigration. In fact, some people believe it actually encouraged more immigrants to come here illegally.
And that's the reason that this time, no immigration reform bill is likely to pass without solid provisions to ensure that future illegal immigration would be reduced dramatically.
Gutierrez's bill, called the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009, tries to establish a realistic balance between the liberal and conservative extremes to create an immigration system that would actually work!
However, because it was introduced by a group of mostly liberal Democrats to pressure President Barack Obama to keep his word on immigration reform, even Obama administration officials are reportedly dismissing it as "too liberal."
It's not! There is no question that Gutierrez's bill takes a pro-immigrant approach, but it's the fair, balanced and realistic way to finally fix our broken immigration system.
Nevertheless, the White House and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano have indicated that the Obama administration is assisting in the creation of a more moderate and bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill that will be introduced in the Senate early next year by Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
The question now is: How much further to the right will the Schumer-Graham bill take us, and will it truly fix our immigration problems with the compassion that Obama promised?
To find out more about Miguel Perez and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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