Democrats must stop treating immigration reform as a political favor to Latinos

LatinaLista — The old adage “Be careful what you wish for” is beginning to hang heavily over the debate on comprehensive immigration reform or CIR.

wishing.jpg

While the immigrant activist and national Latino communities have been actively pushing the Democrats and the Obama administration to address immigration reform this year, there are signs, as a Politico article points out, that the direction may not be what people fighting for CIR had in mind.

To get an idea of how far Democrats have moved to the right on the issue of immigration reform, consider this: The Obama administration’s enforcement efforts in 2009 led to the deportation of 387,790 illegal immigrants — a 5 percent jump over the Bush administration’s record in 2008.

And this: A liberal Democratic senator from New York is a co-sponsor of a measure that includes what civil libertarians fear could become the first national ID card.

And this: A PowerPoint presentation offering guidance for Democrats in the coming Senate debate concludes that the most persuasive argument to voters for supporting reform is actually a classic Republican pitch: because it will force illegal immigrants to “pay their fair share of taxes.”

And today, the author of the current Senate immigration reform measure, Sen. Schumer — the “liberal Democratic senator from New York” — sent a letter to Arizona Gov. Brewer asking her to intervene with Arizona Senators McCain and Kyle on immigration reform. His letter ruffled a few feathers among immigrant activists.

Not because he asked for the Governor’s help but because instead of condemning SB 1070, like many in his party, he wrote “…before enactment of SB 1070 becomes necessary.”

Given what has been revealed thus far about the direction of Sen. Schumer’s version of immigration reform, there is a sense that he, and other Democrats, feel it’s much more important to make this bill palatable for Republicans than it is to resolve the concerns of the Latino community and its supporters.

The problem with that approach is nothing really changes, and the country still is home to over 11 million people who are the defenseless victims of a well orchestrated propaganda attack, that without doubt, has permeated the halls of Congress itself.

If that wasn’t the case, then we wouldn’t hear our Democratic champions repeat the same falsehoods as the opponents of CIR.

No matter how many times it’s repeated the truths about undocumented immigrants always seem to get drowned out by the same group of people responsible for pushing the Arizona law and other similar measures across the country.

So, here go the explanations again, courtesy of an immigration lawyer from Dallas, Texas:

Three Common Myths About “Illegal Aliens”

Myth #1: “Illegal Aliens” are criminals and should be treated as such

Illegal entry into the US is a violation of a civil statute and is not a crime. In fact the US Supreme Court has ruled in a number of cases dating back to the 1800s that deportation cases are not criminal proceedings because entering without inspection is not a crime (it is however a crime to reenter the US illegally after being deported). Speeding in your car is a crime; walking across the border without inspection is not.

Interestingly, you have greater protection from the government if you exceed the speed limit than if you illegally enter the country. All of the protections of the US Constitution are available to speeders whereas very few are available to someone placed in deportation proceedings. In those proceedings, people are routinely denied basic rights such as freedom from illegal arrest and detention, and access to bond proceedings. It would actual be a great benefit to “illegal aliens” if entry without inspection were made a crime. It also would be very bad public policy.

Myth #2: Illegal Aliens should wait their turn in their country like legal immigrants

Almost all illegal entries to the US are by people who work in jobs which Americans won’t do. That is the most simple and overlooked fact in the entire immigration debate. The problem is that there are no categories for employers to legally hire these types of workers. We have categories for many types of employees including professionals,
religious workers, intra company transfers, etc. But there is no category for unskilled, semiskilled and skilled labor.

People who say “illegal immigrants” should go home and apply for a visa, or wait in line like everyone else, or “play by the rules”, have no understanding of how our immigration system works.

If you are an employer who with a need for unskilled or even skilled workers, there is no amount of money or effort which will produce a “legal” worker. It is this fact which most illuminates the racist basis for much of the anti-immigrant arguments in our country.

Myth #3: Americans pay taxes for illegal aliens who use public services such as public schools, medical care and city services and they pay nothing

There are three major areas which illegal aliens are said to use public services for which they pay nothing or very little and for which Americans pay the taxes: schools, medical care and city services such as fire, police, libraries, parks, etc.

However, very simple research reveals that this is not true. In order to understand how this works, just look at the source of the funding for these services.

As everyone in Texas knows, our public schools are financed almost entirely by property taxes on residences, which include apartments.Therefore, illegal aliens pay just as much of their fair share of property taxes as US citizens.

Medical care is usually a function of treatment at a county hospital, since most illegal aliens do not have insurance. This is also true because only permanent residents and citizens are eligible for Federal medical payments such as Medicare and Medicaid. The question then is where does the funding come from for public hospitals? And the answer is that 90% comes from property tax, sales tax, business tax (which are passed on to customers) and bonds.

City services are also funded by a combination of sales and business taxes, along with bonds. Obviously, immigration status has nothing to do with how these services are paid for.

 

There are obviously very complicated financial issues which impact this analysis and there is no question that to some extent “illegal aliens” derive some benefit for services for which they do not pay. But the blanket statements that they do not pay at all are simply not true. As with most public issues, including immigration, the reality is much more complicated than the rhetoric would lead us to believe.”

All these facts have been repeated ad nauseum ever since the opposition decided that lies were much more effective than the truth.

The problem is these lies are being taken as infallible truths and believed, to some degree, by the very politicians who are supposed to be championing this cause.

It’s important for these politicians to realize that while yes, CIR, is very much a policy and human rights issue, it’s also an issue about correcting and putting an end to these lies perpetuated by a small group who don’t like the prospect of being in the minority one day.

Yet, the only way to achieve this goal is to really get educated on the issue and not approach it as a political favor to Latino voters. They must acknowledge that the fate and safety of 11 million people, who have lived in this country already for years and whose children consider the USA their family’s home, literally do hang in the balance and it’s a situation that needs informed leadership to champion it.

 

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to stay informed and up to date with articles delivered to your feed reader. Invite a friend to read news on LatinaLista.

Related posts

7 Comments

  1. JudiBug said:

    I wonder if you realize how racists this article sounds. It is exactly the type of thing which incites whites to anger. Why shouldn’t they resist becoming a minority? Do the people in Mexico want to be the minority in their country??
    Well, we will never roll over and play dead. Give me liberty, or yes, give me death.

  2. Emma said:

    On health care, Obama said: “If not now, when? If not us, who? Now is not the time to run for the hills.”
    Unfortunately, Obama is not equally committed to immigration reform, an urgent national security, economic and civil rights issue. In the wake of the immediate immigration crisis in Arizona, the aloof Obama thinks it is enought to “begin” work on immigration reform this year and he has no timetable for actually enacting reform.
    President Obama’s lack of leadership and indifference is very disturbing.

  3. Texan123 said:

    The major problem with CIR is that Americans have been lied to before about ‘reform’. The 1986 Amnesty PROMISED increased Border Security and workplace enforcement. Now we have 12+ more illegal immigrants demanding legal status and U.S. citizens get more promises of enforcement that we all know will not stop more illegal immigration.
    Just the fact that we have 15 million unemployed citizens makes this a BAD time to push for allowing illegal foreign workers to keep jobs. This article says it is not a crime to enter without inspection. What about ID theft and Fraud? Every illegal worker has to present documents to work. ID Theft and Fraud are CRIMES.
    You say illegal workers pay the same taxes. No, they live 10 to an apartment, so they do not pay the same as a single family residence.
    You say they do the work Americans won’t do. Will that change if they are given legal status? Of course it will. Then who will do the work that newly legalized workers will no longer do? More illegal workers?
    Stop portraying illegal immigrants as victims. They come willingly, knowing the risk involved, including deportation. American citizens are the true victims of illegal immigration and we are making sure our elected leaders know that.

  4. Alonzo said:

    “If you are an employer who with a need for unskilled or even skilled workers, there is no amount of money or effort which will produce a “legal” worker. It is this fact which most illuminates the racist basis for much of the anti-immigrant arguments in our country.”
    No, but this isn’t a license for foreigners to cross our borders without permission. If we really need people, then we have a legislative process that works in the interests of the American people to take action to permit ALL foreign nationals, not just Mexicans and others in Central America to have equal opportunity to do so. Calling this a justification for illegal entry is to cede our national sovereignty to foreigners. Apparently, you believe that they should have the right to make immigration policy for our citizens.

  5. laura said:

    The big mistake is to think that Democrats are on the side of justice for immigrants.
    Senator Schumer, senior Democrat from New York and the author of the immigration bill, has been an advocate for Wall Street bankers for years. They are his biggest campaign donors. Wall Street bankers and traders like the idea of millions of undocumented workers with no rights, because more profits can be wrung from these workers. They like the idea of taking rights away from American workers by introducing a biometric ID – for the same reason.
    Wall Street bankers were also the biggest campaign donors to President Obama, especially Goldman Sachs.
    So why do we expect anything that would protect the rights of undocumented – or documented – workers, or American citizen workers, to come from Senate Democrats and President Obama? The evidence in front of our eyes makes it insane to continue to hope that.
    I am against any type of “comprehensive” reform at this time. It would be a disastrous law.
    I feel we need to lobby for specific points – end 287G, end deportations, end unlimited detentions, close private prisons. At the smae time, we need to become much more aggressive in educating the American public how hurting undocumented people will hurt them too.
    Marisa has said much on this latter point, and much more needs to be said.

  6. Laura said:

    The big mistake is to think that Democrats are on the side of justice for immigrants.
    Senator Schumer, senior Democrat from New York and the author of the immigration bill, has been an advocate for Wall Street bankers for years. They are his biggest campaign donors. Wall Street bankers and traders like the idea of millions of undocumented workers with no rights, because more profits can be wrung from these workers. They like the idea of taking rights away from American workers by introducing a biometric ID – for the same reason.
    Wall Street bankers were also the biggest campaign donors to President Obama, especially Goldman Sachs.
    So why do we expect anything that would protect the rights of undocumented – or documented – workers, or American citizen workers, to come from Senate Democrats and President Obama? The evidence in front of our eyes makes it insane to continue to hope that.
    I am against any type of “comprehensive” reform at this time. It would be a disastrous law.
    I feel we need to lobby for specific points – end 287G, end deportations, end unlimited detentions, close private prisons. At the smae time, we need to become much more aggressive in educating the American public how hurting undocumented people will hurt them too.
    Marisa has said much on this latter point, and much more needs to be said.

  7. SDOG said:

    laura,
    uh, what does goldman sachs contributions have to do with CIR? you sound like politico.com reader commenter, you are really reaching there.if CIR was done in peices it would take YEARS for reform and in the mean time there would be several states that would flock towards the type of policies enacted in AZ, hmmm, like Texas perhaps? now THAT would be a disastrous law. the AZ law is a plague and it needs to be cured through IMMEDIATE legistlation.

Comments are closed.

Top