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Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America

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What’s in a name?

August 28, 2008 - Posted by Maurice Belanger

One of the most militant groups opposing legal immigration is an outfit based in North Carolina called “Americans for Legal Immigration PAC” or ALIPAC.  But a posting on their web site shows that they are anything but in favor of legal immigration. 

In an unscientific poll of subscribers to their web site, ALIPAC found that 83% of respondents want to reduce legal immigration, with almost 18% wanting to eliminate legal immigration altogether.  See for your self:—.html

This group is like most others leading the anti-immigration movement.  They like to say “Hey, we’re all for legal immigration, it’s just the illegal kind we oppose.”  Boloney!  The press and the people who are truly concerned about reducing illegal immigration should wake up and call them on this. 

The only way we are going to seriously reduce the population of undocumented immigrants is by creating legal channels that immigrants will choose to go through rather than around, reduce visa backlogs that stretch in some cases to more than two decades, and create a mechanism by which law abiding immigrants can get in the system if they are here illegally, thereby weeding out people who are truly not welcome, like criminals. 

The way we get control is to regulate reality, not by keeping legal immigration levels unrealistically low and clogged and hoping 12 million people will be forced out or otherwise disappear.

Of course, that type of argument, which is persuasive to the vast majority of Americans, is not going to move the ALIPAC’s, FAIR’s, Tancredo’s, or Dobbs’ of this country.  They find the lack of viable legal immigration channels a bonus to their side because it allows them to rail against the illegalities.  But in fact, illegal immigration is merely a target of opportunity in their fight to reduce or illuminate legal immigration.

You will see the telltale signs of ALIPAC mobilization on the comment boards of your local newspaper.  Aside from fundraising, the ALIPAC website is a rapid response operation to drive anti-immigration advocates to stories where they can post their comments.  Here is a ripe example of the thinking of these advocates, responding to a story about a U.S. Olympic gold medalist whose mother was allegedly undocumented:

He’s winning in the Olympics while tens of thousands more illegals are robbing, killing and raping as members of gangs across the country. I will gladly take an Olympic loss and save an American’s life any day. F the liberal media and what they are doing to destroy our country

Wow!  Hating an American citizen who has won a gold medal for your country seems a little harsh, but that’s what these cats are about.

The next time you see them lurking, please challenge them about A) whether they really support legal immigration, B) whether they truly believe that we are going to force 12 million people out of our country, including the 7 plus million in the workforce (1 in 20 workers in the U.S. economy) while preventing anymore from settling here because we are building a big wall, and C) what kind of hallucinogenic drugs they are smoking, shooting, snorting or otherwise ingesting?

Will we’re at it, why doesn’t the Federation for American Immigration reform change its name to the Federation Against Immigration Reform, since, like ALIPAC, they are one of the main opponents of moving past our gridlocked politics and fixing America’s immigration system?

Olympian Pride

August 22, 2008 - Posted by Mario Moreno

First, I hope you have been noticing, as I have, the presence of immigrants and the children of immigrants on the U.S. Olympic Team across a number of sports.

Wrestling gold medalist Henry Cejudo’s parents were undocumented immigrants from Mexico.  Decathlon gold medalist Brian Clay’s mother is an immigrant from Japan, and there are many more.

Thirty-three American athletes are themselves immigrants, including flag bearer Lopez Lamong, beach volleyball player Phil Dalhausser, and gymnasts Nastia Liukin, and Alexander Artemev.

Some of our American athletes, like gymnast Raj Bhavsar, are also getting attention in the home countries of their parents.

Paul Waldman, a columnist for the American Prospect, wrote about his impressions of the diversity of the American team here, and the Center for American Progress wrote about immigrant American Olympians here.

What’s Next? Immigrants cause high gas prices?

August 14, 2008 - Posted by Mario Moreno

Just when you thought that immigrants couldn’t be blamed for any more of America’s troubles, the Center for Immigration Studies introduces yet another item to the grievance list: Immigrants are the driving force behind climate change.

Once again, the Center for Immigration Studies has found a way to fudge the numbers and use a critical issue to support their anti-immigrant agenda, as shown in their new “research study” titled “Immigration to the United States and World-Wide Greenhouse Gas Emissions”. The study dubiously claims that:

“future levels of immigration will have a significant impact on efforts to reduce global CO2 emissions. Immigration to the United States significantly increases world-wide CO2 emissions because it transfers population from lower-polluting parts of the world to the United States, which is a higher polluting country.”

Their argument is that if immigrants had stayed in their home countries, they wouldn’t have produced such large quantities of greenhouse gases, because

“By and large, people who migrate to the United States aspire to improve their material standard of living, and (…) this generally entails a higher level of energy consumption and thus CO2 emissions.”

Acknowledging that there is no data that breaks down per capita CO2 emissions, the Center uses annual income as a surrogate for CO2 emissions. In other words, the higher the income of an individual, the larger their carbon footprint.

Not only are these generalizations simplistic but they open the door for an endless list of possible scenarios. By using the same logic, one could suggest that people shouldn’t strive to create a better life for themselves or achieve higher education because a higher standard of living is connected to higher income and thus a higher production of greenhouse gases.

Or even better, one could argue that if Americans really want to stop global warming they should be moving to Haiti, which has a per capita CO2 emissions rate of barely more than 1/100 that of the United States.

Climate change is a real problem that requires solution focusing on our energy choices and emissions policies. It is completely arbitrary to single out any group and suggest that by suppressing that group, we can solve climate change. Suggesting that we stop immigration altogether and encourage people to remain in poverty so they don’t increase their emissions is not a real solution. We need to solve our environmental problems in a comprehensive way, and we need too a workable, comprehensive solution for our broken immigration system.

Illegal Immigration: That was so 2006

August 05, 2008 - Posted by Maurice Belanger

It seems that, these days, crisis is the fuel of politics in Washington.  Not that crisis actually moves today’s politicians to solve problems.  No, what crisis provides is a new opportunity for a politician to come up with the sound bite that will give him or her an advantage over an opponent.

Today, the crisis is the price of gasoline, and the sound bite is offshore drilling.  Some of the people who yesterday were holding up business in the House and Senate by trying to attach deportation-only proposals to every piece of legislation are today maneuvering to attach drilling-only proposals to every piece of legislation.

Now, these politicians know as well as the next guy that oil from sources that haven’t yet been explored won’t make it to the gas pumps for many years but, if voters aren’t paying too close attention to the details, offshore drilling might be the sound bite that sounds like a solution, just as in 2006, a crackdown on illegal immigration was thought to be the magic sound bite that would hoodwink voters into thinking that the candidates were actually trying to solve a problem.

To paraphrase my favorite line from Lilly Tomlin: No matter how cynical you get in this town, it’s impossible to keep up.

On the positive side, until someone figures out how to tie undocumented immigrants to the price of gasoline, there is a bit of diminishment of attention to illegal immigration and harsh enforcement-only proposals.


August 05, 2008 - Posted by Maurice Belanger

Congress is out for the month of August.  There was some action on immigration-related measures just prior to its departure.

On the House side, by a vote of 407 to 2, H.R. 6633—the Employee Verification Amendment Act—was passed.  The bad news is that this bill re-authorized the flawed Basic Pilot electronic verification test pilot.  The good news is that, in effect, Members of Congress have acknowledged that, despite years of operation, this system (now called “E-Verify) is not ready for prime time.  They did not make it mandatory, nor did they extend the program for a longer period of time (some were pressing for a 10-year re-authorization).  The bill commissions two studies by the GAO, to measure the impact of E-verify on the Social Security Administration, and on small businesses.  It also includes a provision that requires DHS to reimburse the Social Security Administration for the costs incurred by SSA in implementing the program.

Also in the House, the Immigration Subcommittee passed H.R. 5882, a bill that would “re-capture” employment-based and family-based immigrant visas that had not been allocated under existing ceilings due to bureaucratic inefficiencies.  Re-capturing visas back to 1992 would provide an additional 225,000 immigrant visas on a one-time basis, alleviating somewhat the shortage of immigrant visas that keeps family members and workers waiting for years to gain their immigrant visas.

The House Immigration Subcommittee passed two other positive measures.  H.R. 6020 would facilitate naturalization for military personnel, and provide certain relief from deportation for members of the military and their family members.  H.R. 5924, the Emergency Nursing Supply Relief Act, would provide extra visas for nurses, among other things.

In the Senate, S. 3414 was introduced by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Edward Kennedy (D-MA).  The Visa Efficiency and E-Verify Extension Act would reauthorize a number of immigration programs expiring this year, including E-Verify (for a limited time).  The bill would also recapture unused family- and employment-based immigrant visas.  It would also require studies of the problems with E-Verify, and include measures to protect the Social Security Administration against the burdens placed on it by the E-Verify program.

The Senate also passed H.R. 2608 (previously passed by the House), extending the time period during which elderly and disabled refugees, asylum seekers, and certain other immigrants may receive benefits under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.  The time limit was extended from seven to nine years.  The amended measure goes back to the House for another vote.

Getting through both the House and the Senate—and signed into law on July 30—was H.R. 5501, the United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act.  Among other things, this bill removes HIV infection as a mandatory ground of inadmissibility to the U.S.

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