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

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.


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.



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