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What needs to be considered for real immigration reform

LatinaLista — If one thing was clear from the testimony of Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday morning, it’s that she wants to see immigration reform addressed in 2010.


With senators questioning Napolitano on everything from immigration status, detention and deportation to asylum seekers and border security, it’s easy to see that it’s a topic that people are itching to debate, or at least clarify.

From the line of questioning and the Secretary’s own answers, it’s obvious there is puzzlement and frustration as to how things are currently operating when it comes to implementing current immigration policy.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (R) and committee ranking member Sen. Jeff Sessions (L) listen to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano testify on Capitol Hill.

It underscores the fact that any immigration reform bill is going to have to go beyond “fixing a broken system.”

It’s going to have to create a new one.


New procedures for detaining undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers, along with, new ways to keep more vigilance on employers and people who overstay their visas must be created.

New penalties and more fierce punishments for those who deal with human smuggling or use innocent migrants to do their dirty work must be created and enforced.

A new program that allows for enough seasonal and temporary workers to come to the country and work under the protection of the federal government must be considered for those industries where even “American workers won’t do the work.”

A practical approach to putting people on a path to citizenship without extra hardship or creating an atmosphere of intimidation must be created.

Creating an extensive citizenship program whereby the laws of the United States are taught, not just historic dates or famous preambles of national documents, but laws and social customs of the country so that no longer immigrants will be seen as “outsiders” for not knowing how to behave. End the program with a graduation where graduates receive legal IDs so that they can begin the process of coming out of the shadows and realize full assimilation into U.S. society.

Create a policy that allows for reunification of families for those people who were forced to deport and, if only guilty of re-entering the country, expunge their records of those misdemeanor charges.

Create an international understanding with those countries losing their citizens to the lure of U.S. jobs that their citizens are their most valuable export and help create a process whereby foreign countries monetarily gain from “exporting” their labor.

Create an understanding in the federal government that the U.S. is still a desirable place for some who want to immigrate and live here and so rational quotas need to address that fact.

And finally, above all, there must be created an intention by all Senators to debate with the goal of reaching a compromise because the time for immigration reform is now and the patience of Latino communities across the country is wearing extremely thin.

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  • Grandma
    December 9, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    “Create a policy that allows for reunification of families for those people who were forced to deport and, if only guilty of re-entering the country, expunge their records of those misdemeanor charges.”
    The head of Homeland Security apparently doesn’t know the current laws. Re-entering the country is a felony, not a misdemeanor. She needs to learn the current laws before she starts trying to change them.

  • GrayRiv
    December 9, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    Policy wise, the options are few: Legalization combined with a legal immigration system that works moving forward, process people who are waiting, and restore basic rights to people who are deportable or become so in the future…The reform package is not going to be easy from the perspective of the immigrant family, but I think it can be made fair and attractive enough that people will take the opportunity to get legal. The harder part is creating the system where people come with rights and visas in the future and less immigration happens in the black market.
    Politically, the Dems can’t afford to enter election season without addressing immigration. Just trying weakly isn’t enough, they need to deliver. It will help energize their immigrant, Latino, Asian, young, labor, and progressive base.

  • Truth
    December 10, 2009 at 7:42 am

    The real facts are that the Undocumented immigrants pay more taxes than you think!!!
    The Undocumented Immigrants pay the exact same amount of taxes like you and me when they buy Things, rent a house, fill up gas, drink a beer or wine, buy appliances, play the states lottery and mega millions . Below are the links to just a few sites that will show you exactly how much tax you or the Undocumented Immigrant pays , so you see they are NOT FREELOADERS, THEY PAY TAXES AND TOLLS Exactly the same as you, Now if you take out 10% from your states /city Budget what will your city/state look like financially ?
    Stop your folly thinking , you are wise USE YOUR WISDOM to see the reality. They pay more taxes than you think, Including FEDERAL INCOME TAX using a ITN Number that is given to them by the IRS, Social Security Taxes and State taxes that are withheld form their paychecks automatically.

  • Texan123
    December 10, 2009 at 8:40 am

    The Amnesty Act of 1986 did nothing to stop illegal immigration. Reform will only encourage more to come. Documents will be forged to apply for legal status, just like documents are forged for work.
    Americans were promised a ONE TIME AMNESTY in 1986, along with strong enforcement measures to stop illegal immigration. The workplace requirements spawned a huge industry of counterfeit or stolen identities. This fraud on the American people continues without recourse for the victims of ID theft, or job theft.
    Reform will not stop this madness. Only enforcement will. Any law that is not enforced is meaningless, and obviously ineffective.

  • Shane
    December 10, 2009 at 10:57 am

    this is great, a step by step list of what needs to be done. While I agree with mostly everything said, I have two points of contention:
    “Create a policy that allows for reunification of families for those people who were forced to deport and, if only guilty of re-entering the country, expunge their records of those misdemeanor charges.”
    what about the people who are waiting line through the proper channels? who gets priority?
    also, where do skilled laborers fit into this equation? they are far more useful to our economy.
    “Create an international understanding with those countries losing their citizens to the lure of U.S. jobs that their citizens are their most valuable export and help create a process whereby foreign countries monetarily gain from “exporting” their labor.”
    um where is this $$ going to come from? We just committed $30 billion THIS YEAR for Afghanistan. This is not even including the cost of the health care, or the jobs initiative coming from the white house.
    how can we be charged for extra people that left their home country, voluntarily, albeit because of their employment situation? Where is the gain for the USA in this?
    what about the cost per state with high populations of undocumented immigrants.
    In my own state of MD, this group costs us per year:
    $1.1 bil for education
    $167 bil for free medical services
    $29 for jailing legitimate undocumented criminals
    how can we offset these numbers with increased immigration?

  • Katie
    December 10, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    I would like this country to adopt the same immigration laws that Mexico has such as:
    Foreigners who violate the terms of their visa may be sentenced up to 6 years in prison (articles 119, 120, 121) Foreigners who misrepresent the terms of their visa while in Mexico such as working without a permit can also be imprisoned.
    Under Mexican law, illegal immigration is a felony. The general law on population says,
    A penalty of up to 2 years in prison and a fine of three hundred to five thousand peso will be imposed on the foreigner who enters the country illegally. (Article 123)
    There are other laws on their books and I think it is time we need to standardize the immigration laws by using Mexico’s laws as a model.

  • Carl McGinnis
    December 10, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Everyone must be warned before coming to the United States. Even if you have a visa, you are putting yourself at risk of Homeland Security ICE officers. I have a best friend that is from Paris France here on an education visa to finish his degree. He has been here since 2005. His visa is valid until March of 2010, His passport is valid until 2014, and his I-20 is current. He is not illegal. In 2008 He fell in love and married a U.S. citizen that just happens to be addicted to Prescription medications, He knew nothing about this. But he was arrested due to her mistakes. He was placed in detention, scheduled for deportation. He has been in detention center in Pompano Beach Florida for 5 months now. All this because of her mistakes. She should be the one in jail not him. Please everyone coming to America. Think twice. This couple has lost all there savings on lawyers, she lost her job, and they are in the process of losing there home. All this was caused because ICE has the wrong person in jail. They make up any story they want and when they are questioned about it you get nowhere. I have written many letters to Janet Napolitano, Senator Bill Nelson, and even President Obama. But no one will listen to the truth. So please people think twice about coming to America for any reason. Our immigration system is broken ….they all agree, but you put your life at risk when you enter our borders. Even if you follow the rules you may also lose everything as this couple has. No one will listen, no one cares.

  • Texan123
    December 11, 2009 at 9:50 am

    It may be true that illegal immigrants pay sale taxes and income taxes thru ITIN. They also make less money and get most of the income taxes refunded as well as earned income and child care credits. Never mind that the income reported on the ITIN requires a Social Security number under which to claim income…..
    It has been my experience that many DO NOT BUY CAR INS. Here in Texas you are crazy if you do not buy uninsured motorist protection. Even tho state law requires every driver to have liability insurance. When an illegal CAUSES an accident, not much can be legally done to make them pay for the damage. So the law abiding person pays more to protect themselves from those lawbreakers.
    I would also add that many Hispanic births in Texas hospitals are to uninsured single mothers who do not mind letting citizens pay the bill and to support her citizen child thru WIC, food stamps, and other benefits.
    The overwhelming majority of workers coming from Mexico are under educated and will earn modest incomes. Some are careful not to earn more than they are allowed to qualify for government subsities.
    The only broken part of our immigration system is the part that lets millions of illegals come, work, stay, without punishment. The Federal government has failed to stop the invasion, identity theft and loss of jobs that makes illegal immigrants so successful in stealing the American Dream. Citizens feel helpless and betrayed. Amnesty will not fix the system. We tried that in 1986. Reform is just another kinder, gentler word for amnesty.

  • cookie
    December 11, 2009 at 11:19 am

    If our immigration laws and the enforcement of them are so tough then why do we still have millions of illegals in our country?

  • cookie
    December 11, 2009 at 11:26 am

    You need to seek out the real truth. Most of these illegals have many dependents and are at the poverty level so no, they don’t pay much if any income taxes. As for the other taxes they pay they don’t pay in enough to cover their social costs. So it is a net negative for our country and the American taxpayer.
    If they leave Americans will take their vacated jobs at a fair wage and be the new spenders that you claim would affect our economy.

  • Evelyn
    December 11, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    Katie :
    I would like this country to adopt the same immigration laws that Mexico has such as:
    Illegal immigrants in Mexico will avoid jail
    By Wire Reports
    Published: 7/22/2008 2:08 AM
    Last Modified: 7/22/2008 3:15 AM
    MEXICO CITY — Mexico will no longer jail illegal immigrants.
    A measure that takes effect Tuesday eliminates jail time for illegal immigrants caught in Mexico. Most are crossing the country from Central America on their way to the U.S.
    Undocumented immigration will now be considered a minor offense, punishable by fines equal to $100 to $500. Illegal immigrants previously faced up to 10 years in prison, although most were simply deported.
    Mexican legislators who backed the revision say Mexico’s previous penalties complicated efforts to lobby the U.S. to improve its treatment of Mexican illegal immigrants.

  • Julie B
    December 29, 2009 at 9:22 am

    With so many responsible immigrants that would like to come here, WHY would we seek the unskilled and uneducated? They will not make enough money to support their own families without demanding social programs and free medical care. The American taxpayer will be asked to help with their support and we just can not afford it. WE ARE OUT OF WORK!

  • Chick Tyson
    January 22, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    This is the richest country in the world and we all should encourage everyone to come here under any circumstances and we have a obligation to give them everything they want.
    We must be generous and provide for everyone that wants to enjoy the bounty of this wealthy land. Especially those who come from countries with poor governments that don’t give their citizens the things they want.
    Besides our corporations benefit by using cheap slave labor to do work americans are too lazy and privleged to be belittled into doing.

  • cookie
    January 23, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    Chick, I certainly hope you said that with sarcasm in mind. If not, seek help.

  • Evelyn
    January 24, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    2009 15:17
    Julie B :
    With so many responsible immigrants that would like to come here, WHY would we seek the unskilled and uneducated?
    Because we have sucked their countries dry, look at Haiti for instance.
    We are the super power we are, because many countries that surround us are run by unscrupulous politicians who are in collusion with the same big corps who keep middle class Americans living pay check to paycheck.
    These American run companies steal the wealth of those people in those countries and the corrupt leaders of those countries are kept in power by the US gov.

  • cookie
    January 25, 2010 at 9:52 am

    So Haiti is poor because it was once wealthy and the U.S. “stole” all of its riches? LOL! Spoken like a true Marxist. All the world’s problems have the U.S. as their root cause.
    Haiti’s history is that they kicked the FRENCH out (by that I mean they massacred many of the French) back in the 1800s and have had a series of disastrous, corrupt leaders ever since; they wanted to rule themselves and they got the opportunity. They are a basketcase of corruption as most third world nations are. They exist almost solely through the largess of Americans and other first world nations. Not to say that the U.S. hasn’t tried to “fix” Haiti’s problems by interference. Presidents from BOTH PARTIES have done so. But to say that Haiti is poor solely, or even mostly, because the U.S. “steals” its wealth is really an example of the mindset of the far left. Funny how the Dominican Republic right next door doesn’t have all of the problems which have plagued Haiti since it received its independence.
    So I get it: since all of the poverty in the world is as a direct result of the evil U.S., we OWE it to everyone in those nations to come here and sink OUR ship also. Good luck with that one, Evelyn.

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