The “Group of Eight” today presented to the Senate the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, which, despite allowing for the legalization of millions of people in the country who can prove they were here before the cut-off date of December 31 2011, contains very rigid requirements that will leave out millions of people and deny them basic rights.
The Binational Front of Indigenous Organizations (FIOB) – and other organizations active in the Campaign for Dignity and other national organizations – believes that the impact of the proposed law will affect the lives of millions of people, and that a new immigration law should recognize the full rights of immigrants.
We stand on the following points:
1) The date of December 31, 2011 as the deadline for income to qualify for a legalization initiative posed excludes entry to thousands of migrants who could not regularize their immigration status. This date should be moved for at least a year ahead to December 31, 2012 to incorporate the greatest possible number of undocumented migrants.
2) The time that the bill proposes to allow immigrants to obtain residence (ten years) and citizenship (total of 13 years) is too long. Applicants should be served within a maximum of five years.
3) On the “Merit Based Program” that would grant legalization based on a merit system according to education and skills, we propose to remove the requirement on educational attainment as many people would be left out, if it applies.
4) The proposal excludes immigrants from [working in] health services and public benefits, which threatens the health and welfare of people.
5) The electronic verification system known as E-Verify to be required of all employers will affect all irregular workers who are in the process of ‘normalizing’ their legal status.
6) The Guest Worker Program would place farm workers in a vulnerable position as it would give unfavorable treatment to immigrants compared to resident workers and citizens.
7) That the requirement of being employed and demonstrating financial stability for given a period of time does not allow the person to adapt to their new temporary status because many people right now are unemployed and because their current immigration status makes it difficult to get employment.
8) The so-called strengthening of border enforcement creates a process of militarization affecting populations of both countries. We are especially concerned with the use of unmanned aircraft (drones). At present there already exists a huge border surveillance system and yet border organized crime operates, which carries out human trafficking and make immigrants prey to kidnappings and other human rights violations.
9) The U.S. government should take responsibility as the entity that causes the migration and displacement of our communities by imposing economic policies like NAFTA on southern countries in addition to supporting the extractive neoliberal system that plunders our communities and generates misery, violence, unemployment, and social instability, which are factors underlying migration.
Preserve the Past. Credit: Wayne Morse Center
As a binational organization we believe that this bill does nothing to alleviate the causes of migration in our home countries, which are increased poverty, low wages, and violence due to international policies imposed by the government of the United States and their financial support with millions of dollars dedicated to the drug war implemented by the Mexican government and has displaced thousands of citizens.
We urge legislators in both chambers to be aware of the impact this law, if passed, would have not only on the lives of people who are undocumented in the United States but in relations with migrant-sending countries.
The United States must demonstrate in practice that is in favor of a fair, humane, and equitable policy for all those who have worked and who aspire to become citizens of this country.