Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Points and triggers

The latest Republican debate saw most candidates happy not to contradict the restrictionist messages of Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter. Ironically, though, the candidates are constantly invoking Ronald Reagan’s name on various issues, even though in 1986 Reagan signed IRCA into law, which legalized undocumented immigrants and now is derided.

Meanwhile, in the real world there was real debate in the Senate. Harry Reid has postponed the vote again, this time until Monday. From the NYT:

The proposed agreement would allow illegal immigrants to come forward and obtain a probationary ''Z visa'' and -- after paying fees and fines of up to $5,000 and returning to their home countries -- ultimately try for permanent residency, which could take between eight and 13 years. The process couldn't begin until border security improvements and a high-tech worker identification program were completed.

A new temporary guest worker program would also have to wait until those so-called ''triggers'' had been activated. And all but the highest-skilled temporary workers would have to return home after work stints of two or three years, with barely any opportunity to apply for permanent legal status or ever become U.S. citizens.

Only 10,000 green cards annually would be available for guest workers, and they would be awarded on a so-called ''points system'' that favors higher-skilled and better-educated immigrants.

There would also be strict limits on bringing your family to the U.S. once you became a U.S. citizen. One problem is that recent proposals seem to offer a view of the world as we wish it to be, and not as it is. We want to pretend that we don’t really need unskilled labor. We prefer wealthier people who bring money, education, and technical expertise with them, but we really want to ignore the guy who is laying our carpet. Even if we let that guy become a citizen, we want to pretend that he doesn’t need to have his family with him. Only wealthy people really need their families, right? After all, wealthier people have more points.


Anonymous,  7:44 PM  

It's pretty clear that the Republicans have an identity crisis, and I think they will try to win some "hearts and minds" with the illusion of a common sense immigration policy during the debates. They can't invoke war spirit. However, Pres. Bush already sees his term winding down along with the approval rating of the war. Therefore, it's in Bush's best interest to enact an agreeable immigration policy to improve the historical aspect of his presidency. A conspiracy theorist would say that Sen. Reid is purposely stalling any common sense immigration bills for (1) retaliation from being ignored while in the minority and (2) to leave Bush hopeless. You make a good point about how we want to pretend that we don't need/have underskilled workers in the USA...Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

Greg Weeks 6:41 AM  

I'm still not sure what Reid was doing, though he has given everyone more time--his earlier warnings may have just been public signals that he would not let things drag out. As for the "hearts and minds," I always wonder whose, as many Republicans--even evangelicals--oppose enforcement-only policies.

Vegan 4:10 PM  

The Mexican immigration bill grants quick ligeal status to 12 miilion illegal immigrants in the US. Congress is not only aiding and abetting felons, but also showing the American people it pays to break the law. Senator Reid (NV)does not represent the Nevadans on this issue and probably not the majority of Americans. Congress should now pass a law that individuals coul buy, sell or trade their citizenship while it still has some value

Greg Weeks 7:25 AM  

Undocumented immigrants aren't felons, and poll after poll shows the U.S. public in favor of the type of reform being proposed.

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