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5/25: National Immigrant Solidarity Network Statement about the recent Senate-White House Immigration Plan
Released 24 May 2007  By Lee Siu Hin - National Immigrant Solidarity Network

National Immigrant Solidarity Network Statement about the recent Senate-White House Immigration Plan

May 25, 2007

Lee Siu Hin
National Coordinator
National Immigrant Solidarity Network

On Thursday May 17, key Democrat and Republican members of the Senate reached a compromise immigrant agreement with the President Bush after months of closed-door negotiations.

The proposal is unacceptable and unreasonable. We wish to encourage everyone to call your Senators and the White House to oppose this measure.

This is NOT an "amnesty" bill. Further, it should be clarified that there has never been an amnesty in this country, not in 1952, not in 1986 and not now. This is a bill that will continue expand institutional racism and direct oppressive measures against immigrant communities. This proposal escalates the militarization of the border while giving migrants empty and unrealistic promises for pathway to citizenship.

Several immigrant organizations have made the following critical observations:

1. False Path to Citizenship

The path to legalization for undocumented immigrants encompassed by the proposed renewable "Z" visa is an onerous burden. The initial $5,000 fee is excessive. This amount is 14 times the typical weekly salary of most immigrants. There is an additional fee at the end of the process and it is estimated that the fees could total approximately $11,000. It appears that the administration wishes to cut the deficit on the backs of the undocumented.

The cruelest joke is that border enforcement triggers must be met and the backlog must be cleared before legalization and new worker provisions can be implemented. The implementation of border provisions is estimated to take two years and the estimation to clear the visa backlog is eight years. Conceivably it could be determined that border provisions are not met or that additional years are needed to meet the trigger provisions. Tacking on the estimated eight years to process under this legalization, it may take 16 or more years before a person can become a permanent resident.

The argument is that this is needed so these individuals don't go to the front of the line. This is a specious argument because if Congress truly was concerned about going to the front of the line it would have repealed the Cuban Adjustment Act which allows any Cuban after one year entry into the United States legally or illegally to go in front of everyone citizen and permanent resident alike in order to be to be granted permanent resident status. Clearly this measure is designed only to punish.

2. Elimination and Reduction of certain family-based categories

Visas for parents of U.S. citizens would be capped, while green cards for the siblings and adult children of U.S. citizens and green card holders are entirely eliminated. While applications in the current backlog would be cleared within 8 years, anyone who applied after May 2005 would have to reapply. This will have a tremendous impact on South Asians who have relied on the family-based system for decades to reunify families.

In addition, a new merit-based point system for green cards is created for all applications received after May 2005. This would create a massive boondoggle.The point system criteria is set by Congress and cannot be modified for 14 years. Our economy is then strapped by this policy that has been set in stone. The economic implications of this is enormous. Adjustments to a fast moving economy can not be made. This becomes a recipe for economic disaster. This point system also creates an inequitable move away from the present family based visa system that has served America well and has contributed to America's ability to compete in the world market. The present employment based visa system is not broke. It needs expansion in order to address unmet labor needs especially with respect to unskilled labor.

3. Criminization of the immigrant communities

The proposal allows criminalizing the immigrant communities by empowering local police to enforce immigration law, and pushing "tougher" background checks on immigrants. There are due process concerns with the expansion of immigrant detention, stiffening of the definitions of "aggravated felony" and "fraud" and issues relating to state and local law enforcement.

4.New Guest Workers Programs

The new guest worker program is unworkable. It is counterintuitive that an employer will continue to employ a worker after an employee's forced one year departure. This is a provision designed to fail.

5. Militarization of the Border

The bill calls for spending billions of dollars to build a so-called a "high-tech" border fence along U.S.-Mexico border, it'll force migrants to go though even more dangerous journey, it'll be creating more border deaths with tragedies, and only fatten the pockets of the migrant smugglers. This is a racist wall because it only targets the Mexican border but not the Canadian border. Rather than building fences the U.S. should be engaging in dialog with our neighbors to the North and South of us to address the complex issue of unlawful migration.

6. Failure to Address Thousands of TPS Applicants

Based on the wording of the proposed legislation hundreds of thousands of TPS recipients do not qualify for any type of legalization because they are not in an unlawful status. Legalization for these people must be allowed.

Given that past U.S. immigration policies have changed year-to-year there is no guarantee that "good" elements of this bill will remain and that bad elements will not increase. In the end, undocumented immigrants will forced to choose an"illegal" way to enter and stay in this country because of excessive costs and the barriers to take the "legal" way.

It is unacceptable that immigrants must pay excessive fees in the thousands of dollars and will be required to depart the United States in order to begin the process to apply for permanent resident status. The burdensome nature of this bill confirms that the main objective of this immigrant bill is to punish undocumented immigrants!

The destiny of 12 millions or more undocumented immigrants is one of the critical human rights issues in the U.S., we need a comprehensive immigration reform bill that will guarantee path to the citizenship with dignity. We cannot accept any bills that will criminalize immigrant communities and enforcing punishments, because immigrant workers are not "illegal," and we deserve respect and basic human rights.

We encourage you to call the Congress and the White House, say NO to the proposal, and Yes to our 10 points of immigrant rights:

1) No to anti-immigrant legislation, and the criminalization of the immigrant communities.
2) No to militarization of the border.
3) No to the immigrant detention and deportation.
4) No to the guest worker program.
5) No to employer sanction and "no match" letters.
6) Yes to a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
7) Yes to speedy family reunification.
8) Yes to civil rights and humane immigration law.
9) Yes to labor rights and living wages for all workers.
10) Yes to the education and LGBT immigrant legislation.

White House Comment Line: 202-456-1111

Contact Your Senator:

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