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McCain-Kennedy Fair Immigration Plan in Jeopardy

By April 4, 2006

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Per AP today, "Sen. John McCain ( R-AZ) said a majority in the 100-member Senate support his and Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's proposal to provide green cards to illegal immigrants after they've worked in the U.S. for six years. But it takes 60 senators to overcome opponents' parliamentary tactics, and McCain said he doesn't have that many."

The immigration bill approved last week by the Senate Judiciary Committee was based on McCain-Kennedy legislation proposed in 2005. That plan would allow illegal immigrants who entered the US before Jan. 7, 2004, and who have jobs, to work legally for an additional six years and eventually become citizens afterpaying fines and meeting certain citizenship requisites. Most illegal immigrants presently in the US are Latinos who crossed over the US-Mexico border.

And in a Senate floor speech yesterday, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid made a strong, heartfelt plea for pragmatic and humane immigration reform legislation which includes a guest worker program and a path for citizenship for law-abiding, long-time guestworkers, " I strongly believe we need additional border patrol agents and the other measures included in the bill to secure our border and enforce our immigration laws with respect to employers. "

But I also believe that enforcement alone won’t fix our broken immigration system. To those who say we should secure our borders first, and then consider ways to reform our immigration laws, I say the only way to secure our borders is to reform our immigration laws."

Senator Reid continued, " We have eleven million people living in the shadows of our society. Many of these immigrants have been here for years, have children and spouses who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, pay taxes, own property, and are active, valuable members of our community. Virtually all of them came here to work. Our immigration laws...force them to live in hiding."

A separate bill sponsored by Senate majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and favored by a majority of Senate Republicans is silent (and solutionless) on the subject of illegal immigrants presently in the US, but boosts border enforcement and purports to crack down on millions of employers who hire illegal workers.

I say "purports" because laws have always existed to harshly penalize US employers from hiring illegal immigrants, but President George Bush and the Republican-led Congress have deliberately chosen to NOT enforce those laws in 21st century America, in order to provide businesses with a cheap labor force, and to generally depress US wages. As a result of this decision, 11 million immigrants now reside in our country.

Under the Frist plan, illegal immigrants would continue to live in the shadows, working for US employers at extraordinarily low wages, with no health benefits, poor working conditions and often living in squalid misery. Which sounds strangely like status quo.

No specific word, yet, when the Senate will formally vote on the McCain-Kennedy plan approved on a bipartisan basis by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Closed door negotiations continue as I write these words.
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Comments

April 6, 2006 at 11:37 pm
(1) doug says:

and what exactly is the legal reason for illegal immigrents to work here…cheap labor… @ some point Bush and all his big corp. fundraisers would love to see the basic wage to be about $10/hr no benifits

April 7, 2006 at 1:43 am
(2) michele says:

some people are very serious about stepping out of the shadows and declaring themselves, paying any fines and taxes,programs, Alot of immigrants dont just come here to take advantage and go back home for some the thought of going back isnt even thinkable, some spend every penny they make here in this country, here in this country… And would do anything to have a normal life here that is anything honest not fake weddings,ect please do something for the many people that are truthfully wanting to honestly become paying members of this society and make the little things in life that everyone else take for granted available credit cards, morgages, college, car insurance, id, pension schemes, just normal adult things for the regular working class people who would wake up every day and say thank you after living to many years without, not to mention being able to leave and visit our families for funerals,weddings births and just to see youre parents when sometimes thats what you need please god make this a reality….

April 9, 2006 at 4:15 pm
(3) usliberals says:

Michele, thank you for your articulate, heartfelt thoughts.

I fully agree with you: the living conditions and lifestyles required of undocumented immigrants are shameful and morally wrong.

Doug, it’s a new-style, 21st century form of economic slavery. I understand your point. But they’re here now…..11 million people can’t just get on buses and go elsewhere, so a guest-worker program with a path to legalization is that only pragmatic answer to helping people move-out of squalid, fearful misery in the shadows. It’s the first of many steps the US must take to right the wrongs of corporate America brutally using these people to make fat profits.

April 19, 2006 at 8:47 am
(4) Tatyana says:

usliberals i agree with you this seem to me like slavery in the 21st century yes they may have the choice to be here. however the conditions in they’re homeland drove them to these extremes and coperate america is currently taking advantage of that make great profits from illegal immigrants.

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