Immigration Reform and Economic Justice

In the upcoming weeks, you will repeatedly hear the words “illegal immigrants” and phrases like “they’re breaking the law” from some members of Congress to justify why we have tolerated a sub-society of second-class people working for substandard wages, living in substandard housing, and when injured on the job, refused medical care. We have allowed undocumented workers to be exploited for many years because their “shadow” communities have given us inexpensive goods and services. These jobs come at a cost to all because these workers perform jobs with low wages and without basic rights to decent working conditions.

Recently, Congress introduced a comprehensive immigration bill that streamlines the immigration process by providing a gateway to citizenship. Immigrant children living in the U.S. before the age of 16, who clear security and criminal background checks, and who pass general education requirements including English and civics, will be given an earned pathway to citizenship through education, community service or military service.

Undocumented immigrant families pay sales taxes, gasoline taxes and whether they rent or own their homes, property taxes. These taxes have contributed to the payment of public services.

Notwithstanding the human interest, there are economic reasons to grant earned immigration status. The U.S. workforce has aged. New citizens can help pay social security and Medicare benefits for the baby boomers now retiring from our workforce. In addition, we must act now to bring back many jobs that were shipped overseas so our country can be self sufficient rather than rely on foreign countries. Consequently, together with immigration reform, Congress must implement policies that create good-paying jobs for our unemployed and those it seeks to immigrate to carry our nation forward far into the future.

Naturally, the proposed bill contemplates costly “tough” enforcement methods with an employer verification provision that creates significant civil and criminal penalties for employers. Additionally, the bill targets human trafficking, gun and drug smuggling crimes, and provides for compensation to border states that incur costs for prosecuting federal crimes. Some say we need even tougher border enforcement and longer prison sentences.

Clearly, Mexico must step up to the plate and respect our border. While some amount of border “protection” may be necessary, what is also clear is that U.S. tougher border enforcement will result in higher taxes to support an already overcrowded prison system. There is a finite amount of taxpayer dollars. We must be honest and acknowledge that border “policing,” “security” and “prisons” are a substantial taxpayer drain but do not produce any gross domestic product. We should therefore remove the rhetoric and be open to examining all solutions.

Unfortunately, the “reform” bill fails to address the major cause of illegal immigration. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, about three-quarters of the nation’s undocumented immigrants are Hispanic, 59% originating from Mexico. Some economists say that NAFTA hurt Mexican farmers. Others say that Mexico’s protection of certain industries resulted in its lack of economic growth. We need not find blame to look for solutions. U.S. companies that do business in Mexico do not even pay minimum wage to their Mexican workers. Simply doing this would help establish a middle class in Mexico.

America’s immigration policy must be tied to a fair, strong, and effective foreign and economic development policy with Mexico, built on equal partnership. If we are to solve this problem, the U.S. must find a way to insure that Mexico deals with its economic problems related to poverty, employment, healthcare, drug corruption, and democratic governance because unless we change our strategy, our immigration dilemma will continue with or without “immigration reform.”

Real solutions begin by creating a middle class with good-paying jobs which build strong communities. If we do not encourage economic justice by building a middle class in Mexico and Central America where 95% of the wealth is held by 2% of the population, we will never solve the problem.

tracy-emblem

Ask yourself this question. How long would you watch your family starve before you would leave your home and walk 3,000 miles to get a job for which you risked death and live in fear of deportation. This is the question that many of our neighbors to the south ask themselves everyday.

Tracy Emblem

Tracy Emblem is an attorney in Southern California

Published by the LA Progressive on December 31, 2009
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Comments

  1. Brittanicus, This is your usual pack of lies, and your usual citation of unreliable sources. I do wish you’d turn off the caps lock once in a while.

    “Entitlements?” As the stepmom of two immigrant youths, I can tell you very clearly that they don’t exist. New immigrants, even those who have waited for years, paid out thousands of dollars in fees and done everything squeaky-clean and legal, have NO entitlements to gov’t services in the US for their first 5 years in residence.

    What new immigrants get is: K-12 education, workers’ comp, emergency medical care. That’s it.

    Get your facts right, for once.

  2. Brittancus says:

    President Abraham Lincoln stated, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

    This is the path that these United States is inevitably taking, because we keep electing the same old bunch of politicians who are selling us out to the highest bidder. Tea Party members like me are about the rights of the American Constitution and the power of THE PEOPLE. Not legislators passing laws behind closed doors to benefit corporate welfare or the corruption of open border zealots? WE MUST REALLY ENFORCE OUR IMMIGRATION LAWS AT BORDERS, AIRPORTS AND DOCKS AND STOP THIS MADNESS? WE NEED TO AMEND THE 1986 SIMPSON/ MAZZOLI BILL, SO GUEST WORKERS CAN ENTER AMERICA, BUT MUST LEAVE AFTER THEIR CONTRACT EXPIRES, WITH NO FAMILY UNIFICATION? WE CAN AND SHOULD OFFER SPECIAL VISAS, TO THE HIGHEST OF SKILLED ENGINEERS, SCIENTISTS AND PROFESSIONAL ECHELON OF WORKERS? THESE LEGAL IMMIGRANTS WILL NEVER BE A PUBLIC CHARGE OR A BURDEN ON TAXPAYERS. FINALLY SHOULD DEMAND THE NATIONAL GUARD, TO COMPLIMENT THE US BORDER PATROL AND US AGENTS AT AIRPORTS AND THE DOCKS. AN ULTIMATE DETERRENT AGAINST ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION IS PERMANENTLY INSTALLING THE FEDERAL MANDATED E-VERIFY IN EVERY BUSINESS ACROSS AMERICA.

    Two paramount issues that must be taken into consideration, in passing any another BLANKET AMNESTY. Millions of more desperately poor families are waiting to rush the border, just before President Obama signs into law this so-called Comprehensive Immigration Reform. All these people know of our welfare entitlements and our government will give free education, free health care, housing, and undisclosed supplementary support. The other is that 15 to 20 million Americans are wandering the streets, looking for work? Find the true facts and not propaganda at NUMBERSUSA, JUDICIAL WATCH. Read what the US Census bureau says about unsustainable OVERPOPULATION. [United States Population Projections: 2000 to 2050 by Jennifer M. Ortman and Christine E. Guarneri of the Census Bureau]“… a greater number of migrants arriving in the United States will correspond to a larger increase in the size of the total population. Under the assumption of a high level of net international migration, the population is expected to grow to 458 million by 2050. The late U.S. Senator Teddy Kennedy, the United States added 100 million to its population via immigration. Before that time, we enjoyed 194 million in 1963.

    Today, we slog forward with 309 million on our way to 438 million in four decades, said Frosty Woodbridge, an acknowledged columnist. Poverty and hunger is rampant now in America, with shortages of drinking water and electricity outages are our dismal future, if we don’t halt illegal immigration. For the record thousands of Vietnam warriors are homeless, veterans of other wars , fatherless Mothers with children and Senior citizens on low income, worrying about sharing their pitiful pensions with Bush’s Social Security funds, that are on-hold for totalization with the corrupt government South of the border. There are millions of American living in poverty now, hungry, homeless and without any hope. We have a responsibility to our own countryman, not to other foreign corrupt nations.

  3. All plans for immigration reform with respect to Mexico are dishonest and sad when we continue to treat failed Mexico and its ever-corrupt govt. as a separate country and hypocritcally seek to harden the border. The whole situation overburdens the real immigration system for people from overseas, and perpetuates the poverty, injustice and crime in Mexico, which can only be ended by inviting the Mexican people to dissolve their country and govt. and join the U.S. as 10+ new states, allowing pop. and resources to finally be pooled and all of us to share the New World in peace and prosperity. It takes only 7 steps to accomplish, and after it’s done all 414 Americans can decide on immigration policy to the New World. Click the url and study the nonpartisan Megamerge Dissolution Solution.

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