I can think of few things that could be more dangerous for homeland security than granting amnesty to 8 to 12 million illegal aliens," said Rep Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., an outspoken critic of legalization. "Perhaps the administration ought to dedicate more energy to enforcing our existing immigration laws and less on finding ways to allow millions to skirt them," Tancredo added. (Stern and Kammer) legalization program on the scale Tom Ridge, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, suggested would overwhelm his already overburdened department," said Krikorian. (Stern and Kammer)
Principles on Legalization
According to the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), there are key elements that must go along with a legalization program in order for it to be acceptable.
Sacrificing the future wages, labor protections, and working conditions of both U.S. And future foreign workers in order to achieve legalization is too high a price," says a LULAC spokesperson. (League of United Latin American Citizens) They state very clearly that legalization should not be obtained at the cost of future inequities.
We are deeply concerned that many members of Congress will soon conclude that those demanding legalization will willingly accept any and all changes to, or expansion of, foreign worker programs as the price for achieving the long sought goal of legalization," they add. In addition they point out that most recent bills introduced in the U.S. Congress are significanly flawed in that they do not contain the necessary elements to make them acceptable such as the following. (League of United Latin American Citizens) it is important to know the major infrastructure of the programs being tossed about so that the proper decision may be made. It is certainly an argument against legalization if the elements are not there, and with many proposed programs so far, that has been the case.
Labor Market Tests. A method of identifying real labor market needs. In other words, there must be an established, legitimate process for making a determination that foreign workers are needed for any particular situation, or American workers do it.
Wages and Benefits. There must be a method for determining the minimum wages to be paid to foreign workers. it's insufficient and indeed, catastrophic for U.S. workers if the only requirement is that employers will observe the law regarding wages. U.S. workers would see their wages and benefits reduced as foreign workers come in willing to work at minimum wage, without benefits.
Labor Protections and Enforcement of Them. The right to organize. Protections have to go beyond minimum wage and must include protection from sexual harassment, discrimination, workmen's compensation, health and safe laws, and the ability for these workers to accrue benefits under Social Security.
Further, it is necessary that protections afforded to foreign workers must be enforceable. If we are not going to create incentives for the employer to higher the foreign worker, unless truly needed, then we should not make the rights and the ability to enforce those rights available to foreign workers any different from those available to U.S. domestic workers.
Path to Legal Permanent Residency and Citizenship. (Seems like a duh.) However, foreign workers must have the right, within any particular program, to have the option after a reasonable and specific time period to choose to become lawful permanent residents of this country. Many of the bills introduced have been unacceptable because only those with employer sponsorship have this choice. Why is that bad for the U.S. Because it would allow unscrupulous employers to exploit the desire of these workers to attain legal permanent status to avoid complying with wage requirements and other protections. That would drive down wages for U.S. workers as well.
Family Unity. Any foreign worker program that brings in workers for more than just a few months, must also allow those workers to bring in their spouse and minor children during that period of the program. The social dysfunction that results for extended absences, according to LULAC, is incalculable. It is a basic human dignity.
The dangers from these conditions not being present in any legalization program passed, exist not only for foreign workers, but for the U.S. As well. Mainly, U.S. workers are in danger of seeing their wages and working conditions become depressed should the inexpensive foreign workers be seen as a viable alternative to employers improving wages and working conditions for domestic workers. (League of United Latin American Citizens)
In our search for what is bad and what is good for the U.S., we must make ourselves closely inspect and decide, program by program, whether the right conditions are met. It will make all the difference between what is bad for the U.S. And should not be passed, and a program that will actually be effective both short-term and long-term.
Lawmakers are currently proposing immigration bills faster than anyone can read them.
Unfortunately, it is all too often that they don't take the time to even understand what the program structure needs to be for the long-term, as long as their name is on the bill. Anyone who thinks not, need only look as far as the recent $700 billion bail-out bill that got so much publicity. Now we find out that, oops, they forgot to put any controls on where, when and how the money would be spent.
The debate goes on. but, the point is, we may decide that, yes, legalization is good for the U.S. And most of the population supports it (which is not true right now). but, if we then do not take a long hard look at the conditions of that program, it will, indeed, be bad for this country.
And we have to keep in mind that those "illegal aliens" may be one of us some day. A long time ago, all of our ancestors came across the oceans with the same dreams. How we treat these future U.S. citizens tells all of a little bit about what we are as a people and as a nation.
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Camarota, Steven. "Backgrounder." June 2006. Center for Immigration Studies. 15 November 2008 http://www.cis.org/articles/2006/back606.pdf.
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