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Senate resignations underscore need to address immigration reform before Sept.

LatinaLista — Ever since I posted the news that there is a massive march planned for March 21 in Washington by supporters of comprehensive immigration reform, response has been mixed.

Some have supported it and others not — not too surprising. But what was surprising was that people, who normally support such actions wholeheartedly on behalf of pushing Congress to reform immigration, weren’t in total agreement with the idea.

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Their thinking is that with healthcare still unresolved that Congress can’t even begin to properly address the immigration issue. Some have even gone as far as saying that maybe it should wait till next year.

CQ Politics 2010 Congressional Race Ratings Map: Red-GOP; Blue-Democrats; Yellow-toss-up; pink-leaning towards GOP; light blue-leaning towards Democrats.

Yet, some congressional members are showing us that there is little choice but to collectively push for action now — before it’s too late.

Twelve senators have announced their retirements. According to the Christian Science Monitor, that’s the second-highest number of Senate retirees in 75 years.

Comprised of both Democrats and Republicans, the departing Senators were ones who could have helped move forward the immigration legislation just by virtue of them remembering what it was like to collaborate across the aisle to reach a bipartisan piece of legislation.

Now, the most common complaint among the departing Senators is that the Senate has lost the political will to engage one another a la Ted Kennedy style of bipartisanship.

The loss of these Senators is big.

CQ Politics noted,

“With the retirement of Sen. Evan Bayh (Ind.), every Democratic presidential hopeful from 2008 will have exited the Senate by the time the 112th Congress convenes in January…

Bayh joins a group of veteran Democratic and Republican senators, many longtime elected officials, who are set to end their careers at the end of the term. All told, those departures — as well as the death last year of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) — will leave the chamber with a deficit of 232 years of legislative know-how and Washington gravitas that has characterized Capitol Hill for a generation.

Given the political volatility of the election cycle, the Senate makeover could be even more extreme come Nov. 2.

At that time, new politicians will be elected who may not share in the vision of immigration reform or don’t know what it means to craft legislation in a bipartisan way.

As the now infamous “You lie” shout still reverberating in this country indicated, there is a lack of civility surrounding certain issues where people have no tolerance for even the mention of undocumented immigrants and equate any compromise associated with the immigration issue as a defeat.

In fact, compromise has been given a bad rap by some congressional members who are proving to be the worst role models when it comes to young people seeing how compromise, tolerance, civility and respect for difference of opinions are traits still to be strived for but are almost non-existent in Washington these days.

So, while the time isn’t perfect, there’s no better time to push the Congress we have to sincerely address comprehensive immigration reform because come next year, a new crop of politicians may present a far worse situation than what we have now.

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  • Truth
    February 24, 2010 at 8:30 am

    US economy largely unaffected by illegal immigration
    Tucson, Arizona | Published: 12.03.2009
    WASHINGTON — A study released Wednesday concludes that illegal-immigrant workers do not drain jobs or tax dollars and have a neutral impact on the U.S. economy.
    Because illegal immigrants occupy a small share of the work force — about 5 percent — and work low-skilled jobs at lower wages than other workers, their overall influence on the economy is trivial, according to the report, sponsored by the Migration Policy Institute, a pro-immigration think tank in Washington.
    “The fate of the U.S. economy does not rest on what we do on illegal immigration,” said Gordon H. Hanson, author of the report and economics professor at the University of California-San Diego.
    Illegal immigrants contribute a tiny 0.03 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, with that gain going to employers who save money on cheap labor, the report says, while their cost to the economy is 0.10 percent of GDP, which mainly comes from public education and publicly funded emergency health care.
    The net impact at minus 0.07 percent of GDP means that illegal immigrants have an essentially neutral effect on the economy, Hanson said.
    The report does not factor in the spending or entrepreneurship that illegal immigrants contribute to the economy, said Marc Rosenblum, senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute.
    Where illegal immigrants do have a substantial impact, Hanson added, is in specific labor-intensive and low-skilled industries such as agriculture, construction, hospitality and cleaning services, where the share of native-born workers has dropped precipitously.
    Because the U.S. has dramatically raised the education level of its adult population in the last 50 years — going from about 50 percent of all working-age adults without a high school diploma in 1960 to just 8 percent today — the native-born, low-skilled work force has shrunk, while employers continue to require low-skilled workers.
    This leaves room for illegal immigrants to take such jobs at a low cost, the report says.
    Illegal immigrants now account for 20 percent of working-age adults in the U.S. who don’t have a high school degree.
    While the influx of illegal immigrants is one of the factors keeping low-skilled wages stagnant, the biggest losers in the current system are legal low-wage workers, both native and foreign born, who compete with the illegal immigrants, Rosenblum said.
    Meanwhile, employers reap higher profits because of lower labor costs and more productive businesses.
    The solution to this imbalance, proposed by the Migration Policy Institute, is to provide more visas and legal channels for unskilled workers to enter the U.S.
    Today, low-skilled workers must have a green card — effectively requiring them to have close family members in the U.S. — or obtain a temporary work visa.
    “We really need to approach migration control comprehensively by both strengthening enforcements and creating legalization mechanisms that will control the unauthorized population and improve the economic outputs that we get from immigration,” Rosenblum said.

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