News Release

Immigration Policy Beyond the Hype


President Obama is scheduled to address immigration policy today at a speech in Las Vegas.

Biggers is author of State Out of the Union: Arizona and the Final Showdown Over the American Dream. He stresses the need to look at “border security realities, including the militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border and the largely forgotten impact — including thousands of migrant deaths — from Operation Gatekeeper passed by President Bill Clinton nearly 20 years ago.” See a recent review of his book in the El Paso Times: “Taking back Arizona: Author casts state’s politics as community vs. carpetbaggers.”

MAEGAN ORTIZ, [email], @mamitamala
Ortiz is publisher of VivirLatino. She recently wrote the piece on “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” titled “It’s Like #CIR All Over Again,” which states: “There is so much hype about what comprehensive immigration reform could be that the rhetoric about what may happen is really an industry on it’s own. …Some are anxious for a real sign that President Obama is serious about reform. His tenure in office has brought increased funding for enforcement and record deportation numbers.”

Most recently, she wrote “Blueprint for a Road that Already Is,” which states: “And they’re off! ‘The Road to Immigration Reform Starts Today!’ announced one organizational email. They are talking about a set of immigration reform principles — not an actual bill — that was released today by a bi-partisan group of eight senators. … What’s interesting about all the congratulatory messages that ask people to support immigration reform is that they lack an actual analysis of what is in the principles. Since the principles include ‘a pathway to citizenship,’ it’s assumed to be good enough.” Ortiz lists nine points that are skewing the discussion:

1: The border is “secure” so let’s stop pouring money into agencies and organizations that put more boots on the ground and enforcement technology.

2: Being able to live in the United States “with papers” shouldn’t be based on some merit system that awards the “smart” immigrants. If we really want to award success then we need to look at how the educational system in the U.S. perpetuates cycles of poverty and underachievement, filtering a limited amount of “success stories.”

3: Employment verification systems like E-Verify have proven themselves flawed and harmful to the labor market so stop the push to make this mandatory. … We will not accept the introduction of a biometric identification card which has been the subtext for much of … the discussion in years past.

4: We don’t want a guest worker program. We want fair labor standards for farmworkers. How is the proposed Agricultural Worker Program different from H-2A visa program already in place?

5. This get-to-the-back-of-the-line language means people who are already in the United State will have to wait how long before they can get papers? Ten years? Twenty years? Is this the beginning of an expanded DACA-like [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] program that will allow people to stay in the U.S. in a limbo status indefinitely? How do immigration court backlogs figure into this line?

6: Who will determine what makes an immigrant “seriously criminal” or a threat to national security and thus ineligible for citizenship and targeted for deportation?

7. Limits on accessing federal public benefits for “lawful probationary immigrants” helps to perpetuate poverty and poor health outcomes in immigrant communities. This isn’t being “tough” — this is punishment.

8: Having an English language requirement in order to earn a green card is reminiscent of Jim Crow era literacy laws. There is already a proficiency requirement to become a naturalized citizenship. Making it a requirement for permanent residency has one intention, to limit the amount of people eligible.

9: Creating a fast track to citizenship for DREAMers and some agricultural workers while leaving others to languish in undefined lines will serve to further separate families who have mixed statuses and mixed immigration histories. No to a hierarchy of applicants.