By Alex Gonzalez & Linda Vega
We are very pleased to see that Heritage Foundation has opted not release an alleged “report” that was supposed to persuade Republicans in Congress and Conservatives that an Immigration Reform was a burden for the U.S. Government. Much of this credit is owed to Alex Nowrasteh of the CATO Institute, and other Influential conservatives like Grover Norquist who immediately pushed back by underlining the flaws of the analysis within the Heritage Foundation “Report.” A serious analysis on immigration cannot be comprehensive when vital information, real data, is omitted for ideological reasons. And this is a lesson for Latinos: they need to learn to push back and not wait for others to do your job. This also will send a clear message to Sen. Ted Cruz who is still hesitant in supporting Marco Rubio’s immigration plan. We will publish tomorrow the results of our Survey on whether Sen. Cruz needs to help Sen. Rubio.
While the Heritage Foundation is renowned institution of conservative ideas, it time for it to recognize that he Republican Party and the Conservancies movement in American is ready to move on from the Immigration debate.
These are the main key provisions in the 1,500-page Senate bill that will be released to the public next Tuesday.
- Immigrants will have to pass a background check before obtaining a Provisional Immigrant status.
- Immigrants will have to pay a fine and fees.
- Only after obtaining the “Provisional Status” they will have to pay taxes.
- Immigrants who obtain the Provisional Status will be barred from obtaining benefits like ObamaCare, and other form of government services.
- The government cannot issue green cards to this group until the 10-waiting period unless certain milestones are met, including establishing a new southern border security plan, a mandatory worker verification program, and a new electronic exit system at airports and seaports to track visas.
- If DHS fails to meet the border security provisions of the bill in 5 years, a Board made of border states officials will determined when the border is “secured.”
- Recent arrivals would not qualify for the provisional status.
- Agricultural worker will be put on a faster “path to citizenship” if they stay in agriculture–a so-called blue card.
To get support from other Ethnic groups, the gang of eight had insert provision long sought by other ethnic groups like the Irish and Polish politicians.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (a Polish-American) urged the negotiators to include language similar to a bill she drafted with Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) to help Poland into the visa waiver program. The provision would allow Polish citizens to come to the US without applying for VISA. Undocumented Polish immigrants will gain legal provision status, but their families back in Poland wont have to apply for Visa, like most EU members.
The undocumented Irish will gain legal status, but also Sen. Schumer of New York pushed to add Ireland to the E-3 visa program that is currently only available to Australians, meaning about 10,000 new visas (green cards) would be given to the Irish under the Schumer effort annually. Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy also pushed for the provision. This provision was long pushed from Irish-Americans from Boston and introduced by Republican Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts in 2012.
Other important details are:
- what will the cut off time for recent arrivals be, 2 years or 3 years–December 31, 2011.
- The amount (fines) that must be paid–$1000, or $3000.–plus the fees
- How many years of taxes “must be paid“–most immigrants already pay taxes.
- When does E-verify becomes mandatory for all states.
- Who gets to decide when the border is “secure” since the politics of border security has to do more with Party ideology between DHS and the Department of Justices (Democrats) and Republican Governors, or vice-versa. In other words, we cannot have the federal government through the White House, DHS, and the Justice Department (FBI) telling us that the more borders is secure while some border state governors argue that the border is not secure. It is bureaucratic nightmare for business for border communities and businesses that dependent on trade and tourism for their income.
- How will perpetual workers or residents create loyalty to the U.S.
- What is the incentive for people to remain in the U.S. if they are not given positive incentives
What legislators did not incorporate or push were provisions for Mexican workers, who represent a large number of the agriculture, hotel/construction services, and landscape services. In fact, if the data is correct and 75% of the agriculture workers are low-skilled and Mexican or Latinos, that area is being left almost void for this CIR.
Adjusting status or changing status from one visa or gaining immigration status in the U.S. is determined by the mode of entry. That is if an immigrant enters with an immigrant visa, a non-immigrant visa, or with a parole from the U.S. government, they will be able to change their status to become legal. However, many come into the U.S. and overstay the visa which creates a problem for their being able to legally remain in the U.S. Many more enter the country without inspection, or what many term “illegally” because they are fleeing their country, want to reunite with a family member, or come here for employment.
Over the years, the application process has become rigid for countries with high quotas, which include China, India, Philippinnes, and Mexico. Out of these countries, Mexico lags behind in having their quotas met for people who have applied since 1996, for example. Eventhough, their application is “approved,” they must wait for their visa to become available, because of these quotas which makes their remaining in the U.S. perilous. They risk deportation or separation from their family, because of these inflated quotas.
Immigration Reform must include viable waivers that will encourage applicants to become positive contributors to the U.S. Currently, out of the many possible waivers available for people who have previous deportations or overstays, the standard is strict but also emphasizes a negative event in an applicant’s life. They must prove “extreme and unusual hardship” in order to remain in the U.S. or be granted legal permanent residency. When critics claim that granting people status will only provide us with dependents, it is the law that creates this corrupted dependency on a system that teaches them dependency rather ran a robust work ethic. This CIR is an opportunity for the Congress to create a new standard of self-sufficient, positive contributors to our economy.
For instance, at least half immigrants have at least two re-entries if they were trying to enter to reunite with their families. If they were caught at the border and had expedited removals, they could have a bar of 5, 10, or 20 years before they can apply to re-enter the U.S. Additionally, 40% of those here illegally are immigrants who over-stayed also puts them on mandatory 10 years bar; so what type of “waiver” this bill will create is essential to keep families together. If applicants can show positive contributions such as, attending school, paying taxes, owning businesses, creating economic value, it behooves the U.S. to create a new standard of participating residents. Therefore, the waivers created in this CIR, should emphasize not only family unification, but positive economic opportunity for the family and for the U.S. economy.
Another less public but more important fact to this immigration bill is the future flow workers to regulate the burden of Entitlements. Thus, while it simply talking about border security makes good headlines, and is important, we need to be realistic in that stopping people from coming to the U.S. will create a shortage of contribution (workers) to the Social Security systems due to the growing number, 4 million to be exact, of Baby boomers retiring each year for the next 19 years.
For example, according to the Social Security Actuary, the current ratio of beneficiary to workers is for Social Security is 1:3. For every enrollee in Social Security receiving about $1,100 per month, there must be 3 workers paying about $350 each month paying into the system. However, by 2025, at the current levels, unless we increase migration, the ratio will decrease to 1:2. Therefore, in order to create a reform that is beneficial to our economy and our future, we must put the emotions aside and think clearly and practically.
In other words, in order for seniors to be able to collect their benefits as the same level as today, and after adjusted for inflation, we will need to add a foreign worker to the US labor force for every American enrolled in Social Security. Therefore, while the politics border security makes the headlines, the real issues with this bill is how this will create regulated flow of workers to keep our economy working without depending on Mexican immigration that is at its lowest in 40-years and is unlikely go back to the numbers of 1990.
So while Businesses and Unions agree to 200,000 Visas for skilled and low-skilled immigrants, in reality the economy will demand at least 1 million of future immigrant workers to keep the economy 5% unemployment, which is considered full-employment.
Linda Vega graduated from the University of Texas in Austin and the George Washington Law School in D.C. She worked for The Department of Labor, and she is currently in private practice at THE VEGA LAW FIRM. Her areas of expertise are in Immigration and Labor/Employment-Labor Law. In 2012, Linda Vega was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to the Family Practice Residency Advisory Committee.
Alex Gonzalez is a political Analyst and Political Director for Latinos Ready To Vote! He received a Bachelors Degree and a Masters’ Degree, with emphasis in American politics, from San Francisco State University.