May 23, 2006
sometimes bills should die
And we are in one of those times.
I officially announce that I have lost all hope that good legislation might come out of the immigration reform debate. Senator Feinstein had it right today yet her ammendment was killed. The compromise bill that will likely pass the Senate on Thursday is infinitely flawed and I'm beginning to hope that it completely implodes in the house.
It is as ridiculous as having laws on the books that allow for the arrest of eight-year-olds who do impulsive things with tragic results.
I'm so sick of politicians oppressing the vulnerable for their own ambitions.
Can someone please explain how this makes our country safer?
May 13, 2006
hooray for sen. salazar
Salazar Gets Key Immigration Seat article from the Denver Post.
Sen. Ken Salazar is now a key player in the Congressional tug of war over immigration legislation.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has asked Salazar, a Colorado Democrat, to sit on the committee that would unify any immigration bill the Senate passes with one the House passed last year.
"It's an opportunity to work on one of the most pressing matters of national security for our country," Salazar said.
It's an unusual opportunity for a freshman senator, one that will put him in what's likely to be a near war-room. Many House Republicans oppose any legislation that would grant legal status to illegal immigrants.
Salazar has not yet sat on a conference committee. Members are normally appointed by seniority.
Asked if he'd be willing to sacrifice the guest worker program and pathway to citizenship for a merged bill that just beefs up border security, Salazar demurred.
"You can't deal with the issue of immigration in an effective way unless you do it in a comprehensive manner," he said. "Efforts on immigration reform that have been done by only looking at one part of it or another ... it didn't resolve the problem."
Salazar, a 5th Generation Coloradan comes from a proud family which has farmed and ranched the San Luis Valley since before Colorado became a State.
Congratulations, Sen. Salazar.
May 11, 2006
get 'er done
I can finally exhale.
Sen. Frist and Sen. Reid announced the revival of immigration legislation today. story here
Over the last few weeks, Senate in-boxes were getting hit with bricks (literally) and I imagine both parties were more focused on how to use this issue to their political advantage rather than on truly developing a solid policy.
So, I'm still not convinced that either party is really in this for fixing a broken system, but they're moving ahead anyway and will hopefully have something ready by Memorial Day.
In the meantime, human tragedy unfolds every day.
56 Immigrants Locked in Freezer Truck story and video
Meanwhile, in Arizona, Sheriff Arpaio is applying his creative interpretation of a new state law and is jailing immigrants by the dozens with no intention of repatriating them to their home countries. His actions are being challenged in court in the coming weeks. With his interpretation of the new state law, these immigrants can be charged with a felony... something that federal lawmakers will not even do.
So get on with it and get something passed that will prevent human tragedy and lone ranger sheriffs.
It is time for comprehensive immigration reform.
April 7, 2006
immigration reform woes
The not-so-well-thought-through compromise ammendment failed today in the Senate. If something better emerges, this is good. But today, I am somewhat disappointed -- as flawed as the compromise was.
Supposedly, no one is for am#@$ty, but I'd say our lifestyles demonstrate we're for cheap goods and services (and the cheap labor that allows for it)-- especially when we get to pay less for our hotel stays, produce, meat, and housing. Too bad we cheapen our integrity in the process.
On to solving this nation's problems... The Senate should craft a compromise bill that would simultaneously approve and appropriate an enforcement first measure WITH A DEADLINE.
So, for instance, the "am#@$ty" provision would kick in as soon as enforcement has been reasonably strengthened OR on April 15, 2007 whichever comes first. For crying out loud. If Ty Pennington can get a 5,000 sq. ft. house built in 7 days, the U.S. should be able to make major changes in enforcement in 1 year. The legalization measure in this compromise should be across the board and tough. And frankly, I don't know any immigrants who disagree. Working under guest worker status for years, learning English and staying out of trouble are reasonable. The third component would be to create fexible visa caps, so that the labor demands can be met.
Such a measure would limit opportunity to the black market and would maximize the success of "getting people out of the shadows."
Granted, there will be flaws in any system, but this would be a compromise that might actually accomplish what it is supposed to do.
April 5, 2006
immigration or politics?
The Senate has taken us on a wild ride this past week and a half. Today there is a glimmer of hope that perhaps something will indeed pass. It is a compromise which would extend opportunities to immigrants depending on how long they've been in the States as of January 2004. For those here 5 or more years, the door will basically be wide open; those here 2-5 years, will have to leave the country temporarily and then can return as temporary workers with a chance for permanent legal status; those here less than 2 years will have to leave the country and may or may not have a chance at returning legally.
Will it work? In the sense of getting the Senate moving again, perhaps. But in reality, I highly doubt it. If you think document fraud is an issue now, wait 'til you see the market for false documents to prove one has lived in the country for the last 5 years. Even the folks who arrive after it passes will be able to obtain papers "proving" they've been here more than 5 years. The only ones who will have a tough time with this are those who arrived with a legal visa, but have overstayed it. In that case, the dates are on their expired documents. Great. Punish those who actually entered legally.
So let's fast-forward a couple chapters. The Senate will pass a compromise piece of legislation and will go home to their constituents boasting of their fight for tough reform. The immigrants and labor communities will be thrilled, and rightfully so. The black market will make a quick and painless switch from selling fake driver's licenses, Social Security numbers and the like to selling fake rental records, employment records, church membership records, income statments, etc.
Can someone please tell me why the Senate is setting up the black market to collect tolls on the path to legalization? I realize I sound harsh, but this sort of falsifying happened back in '86. And we've no reason to think it won't happen again.
A week and a half ago we had a good piece of legislation come out of the Judiciary Committee. Now it is deteriorating into a compromise that is just symbolic and pointless. If they pass it, the Senate's pride will be shortlived and they will once again be shocked at their lack of foresight.
But this really isn't about immigrants after all, is it.
April 4, 2006
Yesterday, Sen. Dick Durban of Illinois made some interesting observations in the immigration debate. He expressed concern over the lack of doctors, surgeons and healthcare workers in the Congo and other African countries. His argument was that because of the vast need for these workers in their own countries, we must be careful not to lure these skilled professionals with U.S. jobs. I'm not implying that I agree with all of Sen. Durbin's views, but he makes a good point -- because the exodus of skilled workers creates a void in struggling nations.
I think his observation probably applies to clergy, engineers, educators and other professionals as well. What can we do to avoid contributing to this crisis? We could raise up skilled professionals who already live in the U.S., help provide professional training in other countries, evaluate the needs of the other country when contemplating recruitment, etc
There are a many humanitarian and faith groups that build hospitals, clinics, churches and schools, or that actually go on medical or dental service trips, mission trips, etc. As wonderful as these tangible efforts are, perhaps we could also make less tangible investments such as sponsoring students as they study a profession in their homeland. The well-known saying is true, "give a man a fish and you'll feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you'll feed him for a lifetime."
Current immigration policy could be well on its way to tremendous change as early as this Friday. That might mean that the legal process of bringing in skilled professionals would be easier and more efficient.
But is it always responsible?