El debate sigue tras el receso
by Alex Meneses Miyashita
Hispanic advocates are coming out against the bipartisan compromise immigration bill introduced in the U.S. Senate May 17 and promise they will keep pressing to improve it.
The Senate resumes debate on the bill when it returns from its Memorial Day recess June 4.
The Border Security | and Immigration Re- | form Act of 2007 includes enhanced border security and workplace measures required to be implemented to trigger a temporary worker program and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Latino and pro-immigrant organizations have listed as their main concerns in the bill cutbacks to family immigration under a proposed system based on points and a guest worker program that does not offer participants a path to citizenship.
At the same time, they view the ongoing debate as a critical opportunity to ensure a pathway to legalization for millions of undocumented residents in the country.
“Failing to act is not an option here,” said National Council of La Raza vice president Cecilia Munoz. Brent Wilkes, Washington director of the League of United Latin American citizens,said, “We are willing to compromise, but it has to be for the right reasons.”
Groups which officially declared their opposition to the bill included LULAC, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, the Hispanic Federation, the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities, the National Day Laborer Association and the William C. Velázquez Institute.
Other organizations, such as La Raza, Latino and civil rights groups claim the law would harm undocumented immigrants. While several of the bills listed by the NCSL in its preliminary analysis would include certain benefits to undocumented immigrants, the great majority of the legislative proposals would penalize them.
The state bills most commonly range from restricting services for undocumented immigrants, penalizing employers for hiring them, allowing state and local police to enter a federal program to enforce immigration law and requiring proof of citizenship to vote, among others.
Legislation extending benefits to undocumented immigrants commonly range from granting them driving certificates and in-state school tuition and funding English-language learning programs.
Oklahoma, Missouri, South Carolina and Tennessee have introduced comprehensive proposals as defi ned by the NCSL. These address several elements and target undocumented immigrants and employers who hire them.
Most recently, the Oklahoma state Senate passed 41-6 legislation which has been reported as one of the country’s most restrictive bills against undocumented immigrants.
It penalizes employers hiring them, criminalizes harboring or sheltering them, strips public benefi ts away from them and allows local police to enter a federal program to enforce immigration law.
Sen. James William-son, the author of the bill, stated it was “a fair, even-handed approach to problems Oklahoma is facing as a result of illegal immigration.”
Opponents offer an alternative view. They call it mean in spirit.
Additional preliminary fi ndings of the NOSL report are available at www.ncsl.org. Hispanic Link.