In the coming immigration reform debate the nation must return to the doctrine which governed through the 19th and much of the 20th centuries. To wit: Immigration policy must be based on what is good for the nation, not the immigrant.
Congressional representatives of both Houses must stop blaming illegal immigration on the immigrant who illegally crosses the border in search of economic opportunities not present in their home country. The blame lies with political decisions made or their silence on the issue by past and present members of the House and Senate.
Ignoring the issue for the benefit of political campaign contributions and favoritism to business interests since the early 1940’s caused the abandonment of the most successful immigration policy that made the nation great by supplying it with dedicated and fully committed loyal citizens from all countries in the world.
As early as 1947, then President Harry Truman noted that the undocumented entry along the nation’s southern border was becoming epidemic asking Congress to pass laws prohibiting such hiring. Congress ignored his request allowing the unrestrained flow and hiring to continue.
President Eisenhower guided in part by a New York Times article reading, “The rise in illegal border-crossing by Mexican ‘wetbacks’ to a current rate of more than 1,000,000 cases a year has been accompanied by a curious relaxation in ethical standards extending all the way from the farmer-exploiters of this contraband labor to the highest levels of the Federal Government” in 1954, launched Operation Wetback deporting over one-million illegal entrants. The operation was hailed as a success, but in reality the southern border had been turned into a turn sty – don’t worry boss, I’ll be back tomorrow. An again, nothing was done about the hiring practices that was the invitation for illegal entries and reentries.
Politicos became adept at blaming Mexico and Mexican citizens for the illegal immigration phenomenon while taking their cue to say much but do nothing from their business political contributors and gaining favor with the nation’s nativist in which a fair number of Congressional members are among their ranks. There was little care about the animosity and resentment citizens held against these economic opportunity seekers. This led to the wide held belief that it’s not the jobs that attract; rather it is the lawlessness of Mexicans because after all, the U.S. is a nation of laws and law abiding citizens.
During his second term, President Ronald Reagan showed the necessary resolve to tackle the issue. And tackle it he did. He pushed and had Congress pass the first truly immigration reform, which for the first time made it a Federal offense to hire illegal immigrants. The passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) in 1986, was to hail a new era on immigration policy and bring back the nation on course returning to an immigration policy that was best for the country.
But politicos guided by and influenced by special interests gutted the sections pertaining to illegally hiring and in many cases when the then Immigration and Naturalization Service attempted to enforce illegal hiring of undocumented workers, Congressional members stepped in to stop them. It was a blatant disregard for the law for which ordinary citizens would have been accused of aiding, abetting, conspiring or at minimum, interfering with authorities in the process of their duty. It was a shameful practice but no one spoke up against those Congressional representatives.
So IRCA was blamed as a failure. The failure was not the law; it was the political hypocrisy of our elected body. Had IRCA been properly enforced, illegal immigration would not be the problem it is today. To be sure, illegal immigration would continue today, but without jobs available the numbers would be minimal.
So now we are leaving it up to Congress to once again come to the table and provide us with WHAT? More of the same? If so, we will be no further ahead than we were in 1986.
There is no need for long and prolonged debate on the issue. It is as simple as revisiting IRCA and adjust it but with clear mandate for strict adherence to the sections prohibiting hiring of undocumented workers, and forcing the agricultural sector to comply with IRCA’s mandate regarding the use of the H-2A Temporary Agricultural Guest Worker Program. IRCA’s probation section, wrongly labeled Amnesty, can be duplicated as written but with stricter controls and enforcement. It’s all there.
Once this is done, the work can begin on making the other
changes to keep the flow of highly skilled and educated immigrants that are in high demand and needed to continue the nation’s growth.
It is simply a matter of doing right by the nation, not the politicians and their patrons.
Patrick Osio is the Editor of HispanicVista.com. Contact at: PosioJr@aol.com