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Musings and Meanderings
Thursday, January 08, 2004
First of all let me say that any proposal that sends the Conservative (read Xenophobic) Caucus into a tizzy gets my nod of approval any day. Of course I am referring to the President's new initiative on Immigration Reform. Click to read his speech, if you have a high tolerance for platitudes. The meat of the proposal, such as it is, starts 3/4 down the page.
If this proposal comes to pass then it will be a boon for the undocumented workers of America for whom there are few civil rights, no health care, or other benefits that some other Americans do enjoy.
However the cynic in me says that this is a HUGE political move on the part of the President. If he had a Democratic held House or Senate I would certainly think differently, but with the Republicans controlling the Congress, and the Conservative Wing of the Party controlling the Republicans, I see little chance of success as proposed.
So is this a great proposal with little chance of passing? I guess that depends on what is actually proposed.
These points are taken directly from the text of the press release from the White House (linked above) and are either direct quotes or paraphrasing. The order of presentation is his not mine. I use his term "We" as well, this is his phrasing not mine.
Boiled down the proposal is as follows.
1) We have finished consolidating the disparate departments covering Immigration and Border control with lots of new monies and high technology. This is to keep "our borders should be open to legal travel and honest trade; our borders should be shut and barred tight to criminals, to drug traders, to drug traffickers and to criminals, and to terrorists."
2) "New immigration laws should serve the economic needs of our country. If an American employer is offering a job that American citizens are not willing to take, we ought to welcome into our country a person who will fill that job. "
3) "We should not give unfair rewards to illegal immigrants in the citizenship process or disadvantage those who came here lawfully, or hope to do so."
4) "New laws should provide incentives for temporary, foreign workers to return permanently to their home countries after their period of work in the United States has expired."
5) We propose a system to match foreign workers with American employers when no American's can be found to fill the job. This system must be efficient and quick.
6) To participate you must be a foreign worker, have a job, or a job offer if not in the US. Program members will get temporary citizenship for three years, which will be renewable, but not indefinitely.
7) Undocumented workers here now will pay a fee to be in the program. Workers not living in the US with a job offer will not have to pay said fee. They will be given a ID card which will allow them to go to and from their home country without fear of harassment.
8) Foreign and temporary workers will be encouraged to go home eventually. To facilitate this the US Government will work with their home Government to get them credit for the years worked in the US to the home country's nationalized pension programs if any. They will also be encouraged to participate in Savings Plans when in the US so they can carry that money back home when they go.
9) Participation in this program will not put a worker on the fast track for Citizenship. There will be no Amnesty for present Undocumented workers. Citizenship tests and requirements will be strengthened.
Whew, its a lot.
One of the problems with the "rap" that liberals have now a days is that they simply slag off any proposal the present Administration makes without examining it. Although I could probably come up with some snipping comments regarding this proposal, it seems to me to be a "good thing". If indeed it is a huge Rovian move to boost the Hispanic Vote in the coming election, then this is certainly not the first time in American History this has happened.
Dissent is not however snipping. By now if you listen to NPR or some of the less balanced news feeds you have heard the pro's and con's argued ad naseum. I will not repeat them here. I simply hope that this is just NOT ONLY a deft political move by the President, but a genuinely "compassionate" attempt to help these undocumented workers.
There has been a whole lot of Conservatism these past three years and not much Compassion. Nice to see a change for a brief moment in time..