The Immigration Reform Bill crafted by the U.S. Senate is not all that it started out to be – an acceptance of the fact that a majority of the people living in the U.S. without documentation have become Americans, whether their legal status acknowledges it or not. Or that there is no humane, much less logistically and financially feasible way to send the estimated 11 million undocumented people back to their home countries.
Originally we believed that any proposed legislation would ultimately include a reasonable path to citizenship for those who had not committed any crimes, had not become a burden to the U.S. by collecting welfare, and paid their taxes.
Reasonable seems to be a word that is sadly missing in this debate.
As efforts to bring about comprehensive reform to our immigration system got underway, we thought legislators in the nation’s capitol would surely recognize the merits of allowing young people, who through no fault of their own were brought illegally to the U.S. as children but had graduated high school, stayed out of trouble, served the country in the military and for all intents and purposes are American, gain legal status.
The last election must have convinced them that Latinos, and according to a number of national polls a majority of U.S. citizens, strongly favor a path to citizenship for the undocumented.
It was reasonable to expect that the path to citizenship would involve rigorous steps and compromises, including fines, paying back taxes, and criminal background checks.
But the Democrats in the Senate have allowed themselves to be out-compromised by Republican members in order to get legislation passed.
The new proposed legislation is meaner in scope: “Ok we’re going to let some of you stay but it’s going to cost you.”
It’s placating of so-called security concerns by adding another $46 million to “control the border with Mexico,” is overkill. We don’t need another surge of people crossing the border illegally, but there is no need to double the size of border patrol forces so they are standing shoulder to shoulder along the border.
In what can only be viewed as a punitive move that will serve as a boon for the Social Security Trust Fund, Republicans have also convinced Democrats to agree not to give the undocumented credit for any of the social security payments they made prior to legalization, curtailing their income in retirement years.
This latest Immigration Reform compromise will likely pass in the U.S. Senate this week.
Democrats and immigrants will then have to grit their teeth and see what punitive requirements House Republicans have up their sleeves.