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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

AS CONGRESS DITHERS

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The Washington Post has a good editorial on how Congress is guilty of non-feasance when it comes to dealing with the need for a workable agricultural guest worker program and to legalize the estimated 75% of the agricultural work force that is in the US illegally.





The farmworkers are just one on a long list of immigration issues needing addressing including



- dealing with antiquated quotas for both family and employment-based legal immigrants



- border security that is inadequately funded



- a border entry process that is considered the world's worst and is keeping US tourism depressed despite an historically cheap US dollar



- an H-1B cap that was set nearly two decades ago for a much smaller US economy



- legalizing millions of undocumented immigrants who have been here since a young age and who are completely acculturated in to the US



- a black out on immigration of nurses despite overwhelming evidence of a catastrophic shortage of RNs in this country and, of course



- 12 million unauthorized immigrants who are vital to the economy and who are not going anywhere



"As Congress Dithers" could have been the title of many, many stories regarding immigration.

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  1. Another voice's Avatar
    Great article I like this part:

    "It is the prospect of undocumented workers leaving the farms for higher-paying, year-round jobs in the cities; of a country increasingly unable to meet its own demand for food; and of hundreds of thousands of workers in a vital industry doing backbreaking work without basic employment protections."

    Antis (including the republican candidates)have never been able to explain what is their plan to replace these workers based on their "deport them all proposals".
  2. Sid's Avatar
    Another Voice,

    Your argument is valid and before I raise other questions about legalization, I want to reiterate that I support legalization unequivocally.

    I think it's also important for the Pros to figure out how they are going to narrow the income gap between these workers and the other citizens and immigrants. They need to come up with a plan to help these people learn English and get some basic education so that they can help their kids when they go to school.

    For most first generation immigrants, it's a big deal just to become a US citizen and settle down in this country. The first generation unskilled workers will not be greatly affected by the fact that they are poorer than the rest of the country. The same will not be true for their kids. Most of them would have spent their entire lives in the US, and they will not accept the income inequality and instead of focusing on their lack of education they will attribute it to racial discrimination and class bias. You don't even have to look as far as France and UK for this. The US has a precedent with respect the Black community. After they made tremendous progress with the success of the civil rights movement, their leaders did not do a good job of stressing the importance of education. Their community has self destructed with drugs and crime and teenage pregnancies. As someone who wants his own kids to grow up in a prosperous America, I hope that the Latino leaders have the foresight to look beyond legalization and help their community bridge the income gap.

    I gave the example of prosperity of the high-skilled immigrant group to stress the importance of education and ability to speak English and not to look down upon the unskilled immigrants. One of the things that has made this country great is that most immigrants came from countries that faced some of the same issues that the US is facing right now and they have a better idea of what kind of solutions worked and what didn't. As someone who has grown up in India, I know the importance of having one common language and the problems that neglecting minorities can create. The US still has the ability to act on these issues.

    The other issue is scalability and what worked for 50 million or 100 million people may not work for 300 million people. So, to go back hundreds of years to cite what happened with the American Indians and Irish and Polish immigrants and Chinese railroads workers is not always applicable to the current scenario. Since the population density in the US is still very low compared to other high population countries, the US has the ability to absorb plenty of immigrants. At the same time, making the immigration policies more liberal while not planning ahead to expand the infrastructure will lead to many of the issues that we're seeing today.

    The reason the immigration issue has been debated with such intensity is that both sides have some valid points. It is true that it's inhuman to deport 12 million immigrants or continue to let them live in fear. It is also true that the issue of illegal immigration has to be dealt with effectively - legalization does not solve all the immigration issues. To absorb more immigrants, immigration policies have to include expanding the infrastructure in states that have a high population of immigrants by making housing more affordable, building more public schools, etc. The status quo will remain till the Pros admit that these are valid concerns instead of simply accusing the Antis of racism.
  3. A's Avatar
    I too support the legalization but all the people who are getting legalized should goto back of the line.
  4. Sid's Avatar
    A,

    As someone stuck in the EB immigration queue, I can understand your frustration and share it myself. It is fair to argue that the legals should be taken care of first but realistically, the illegals cannot be added to EB or FB queues. It is impractical to impose the 7% per country limit during the legalization process. It might make satisfy many of the legals but it will not solve the problem.

    I agree that it would be fair to reward those who've obeyed the law by solving their issues first but it's impractical to put all the illegals in the same line. They have to be dealt with in parallel while the legals are being taken care of. And yes, any legislation that calls for legalization without making any promises for solving the issues faced by legals is unfair.
  5. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    >>I agree that it would be fair to reward those who've obeyed the law by solving their issues first but it's impractical to put all the illegals in the same line. They have to be dealt with in parallel while the legals are being taken care of. And yes, any legislation that calls for legalization without making any promises for solving the issues faced by legals is unfair.
  6. Sid's Avatar
    Greg,

    The solution that you have suggested is one of simplest solutions that I've ever read about in all the discussions and the beauty of it is that it manages to be fair to the legal community while providing much-needed relief to the illegal immigrants.

    Unfortunately, the bills that are being pushed don't reflect the common sense approach that you have suggested. If the lawmakers shared your sense of fairness there would be very little opposition towards legalization from the legal community and together we can easily defeat the Antis.
  7. USC's Avatar
    INS to deport Army hero:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,2220866,00.html

  8. USC's Avatar
    "On a separate track, we should have a legalization program that allows for an interim status that has only three benefits - relief from deportation, authorization to work, and freedom to travel in and out of the US. No family sponsorship and no green card until the current immigrant pool is processed."

    Which is what the Z visa tried to do. Unfortunately, the antis, the modern day know-nothings, were able to scare our Senators out of their wits. I am reminded of the NY Times editorial:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/20/opinion/20sun1.html

    "It is painful, for many reasons, to oppose this immigration deal. It is no comfort to watch as this generation's Know-Nothings bray against "amnesty" from their anchor chairs and campaign lecterns, knowing that it gives hope to the people they hate."

    "With more green card numbers and the end of per country quotas, that queue should speed up anyway."

    So that we don't reward law-breakers those stuck in the backlog and waiting abroad or in-country on a H1, F1, L1 visa should also be offered the option of opting for this temporary status; ie the right to work authorization and to travel in and out of the country.

    If Congress won't increase the quotas then at the very least it should reform the immigration system so that those with approved immigrant visa petitions should be eligible for a temporary visa to enable them to travel in and out of the country, while they wait for their GCs.
  9. eZvisa's Avatar
    Proposed/Failed Z Visa was nothing but green card that could be renewed indefinitely without ability to sponser someone. Please correct me if I am wrong.
  10. b's Avatar
    Greg's suggestion will improve the overall situation instead of what the last CIR was attempting.

    If only the congress would try this interim fix instead of the mother of all fixes.
  11. USC's Avatar
    "Proposed/Failed Z Visa was nothing but green card that could be renewed indefinitely without ability to sponser someone. Please correct me if I am wrong."

    It wasn't a GC because it required that the principal applicant be employed or lose Z status. It also required that the Z applicant qualify under a flawed point system for a GC. The construction workers, those in the hospitality industry and the domestic workers would never have accumulated the necessary points to qualify for a GC.

    I might also add that the flawed system is a bad idea. Take Australia, when they started out their pass mark was low; today it is at 130. If one wants to go there under the self sponsored category you have to be in STEM, in your 20s AND have Australian work experience or Australian educational creditionals. Otherwise you are not going to accumulate enough points. Fortunately, Australia never made the point system the sole pathway to Australian residency and there are other avenues that immigrants can pursue. Australia also discriminates in favor of immigrants from the UK. With Howard having become the first PM in 78 years to have lost his seat..ROFL..., the Australian point system is likely to become more flexible.

  12. USC's Avatar
    "Greg's suggestion will improve the overall situation instead of what the last CIR was attempting."

    The Z visa did what Greg suggests. It didn't do anything more.

    "If only the congress would try this interim fix instead of the mother of all fixes."

    The Z visa should have been tweaked so as to not require holders to qualify under the point system. This would have made the DREAM act & AgJobs parts of CIR unnecessary. The Republicans shouldn't have insisted on all the anti legal- immigration provisions of the bill. However, one must allowances for the Republicans. To paraphrase Sir Winston Churchill:

    "One can always rely on the **Republicans** to do the right thing - after they have tried every conceivable alternative."



  13. Jack's Avatar
    Greg, you say you favor 'more green card numbers' and dramatic adjustments upward.

    Maybe you've touched on that before but I am relatively new and curious how many annual green cards you favor going forward (2006 = 1,266,264). I realize that is more about people already here and I am more interested in future immigration levels. So I am more curious about if you had your druthers how many more people than the current 1.5 million or so do you want to immigrate annually to the U.S. and what eventual U.S. population level, if any, do you think is too high? Thanks.
  14. Legal and waiting's Avatar
    I am not Greg, but I think I have a fairly good idea of what numbers should be.

    Here is a couple of facts:
    1. In 1880-1920 annual level of immigration was 1.0-1.5% of the US population. Just to make things clear, that immigration level did not result in high unemployment, but rather in very good rates of economic growth and real income for all Americans. 1-2% of population is 3-4.5 million people in today's economy.
    2. Bernarke believes that immigration could be solution to long-term wellfare of the US (read: solution to Medicare and SS), but not before overall levels of immigration reach 3-4 million a year.

    So, look like 3-4 million a year is the magic number for the economy. The trick is that number of immigrants is hard to get - the US will have to compete with Canada, Australia, and New Zealand that actively recruit good immigrants, and with Europe that actively "immigrates" whole countries into its labor system.
  15. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    >>Maybe you've touched on that before but I am relatively new and curious how many annual green cards you favor going forward (2006 = 1,266,264). I realize that is more about people already here and I am more interested in future immigration levels. So I am more curious about if you had your druthers how many more people than the current 1.5 million or so do you want to immigrate annually to the U.S. and what eventual U.S. population level, if any, do you think is too high?
  16. Legal and waiting's Avatar
    How timely.

    http://money.cnn.com/2007/12/03/magazines/fortune/Battel_brainpower.fortune/index.htm?postversion=2007120409
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