Undocumented Migrants


Congress, Bush Administration Exploring Immigration Proposals

Success seems to be connected with action.  Successful people keep moving.  They make mistakes, but they don't quit.

- Conrad Hilton

Source: sentimentalrefugee.com by Dale Wilkins

by John Dillin

Washington - Congress and the Bush administration have begun exploring two sensitive immigration issues that could have long-range implications for the United States and Mexico.  The first involves illegal immigration.  Mexican President Vicente Fox would like to see a new American program that would offer legal status and eventual citizenship to millions of undocumented migrants who are here from Mexico.  It is currently estimated that between 5 million and 7 million illegal immigrants are in the US.  About half of them are Mexican.

The second controversial proposal would launch an expanded "guest-worker" program.  It eventually would allow hundreds of thousands of Mexicans to enter the US each year to work on a temporary basis.  Many would do seasonal work.  One guest-worker concept supported by Senator Phil Gramm, Republican-Texas, has drawn fire from the 14-member Congressional Hispanic Caucus.  Its members insist that any such plan would be unacceptable unless it eventually led to permanent residency for guest workers.  Gramm opposes that.

A new nationwide poll conducted by the Monitor finds that Americans are often indecisive about immigration issues.  The Christian Science Monitor/TIPP survey shows that:

bulletBy a margin of 44% to 26%, Americans say they would oppose granting amnesty to illegal residents of the US.  But nearly 30% said they didn't know enough about the issue to decide.
bulletBy a narrow 39% to 38%, Americans say they would oppose creating a guest-worker program with Mexico.  Another 23% were undecided.

The US currently admits more immigrants than any other nation.  While exact numbers are unknown, it is estimated that well over 1 million people move to the US every year.  Hundreds of thousands of them arrive clandestinely or go underground after entering as tourists.  When asked about the pace of immigration, 41% of those surveyed said they would favour reducing current levels.  Some said they would eliminate immigration entirely.  But 33% said immigration should remain at current levels, and approximately 8% wanted to see the numbers increased.

There is little uncertainty, however, among Americans about an idea floated recently by Mexican officials in favour of a much more open US - Mexico border.  The open-border concept, modelled after the European Union, would permit Mexicans and Americans greater freedom to live and work in either of the two countries.  Such a proposal was opposed by 65% of those queried, while just 16% said they would be in favour.

President Bush, who has emphasised good relations with Mexico, could find himself squeezed on these issues.  With Mexico plumping for higher levels of migration to the US, and many US companies urging a freer access to low-wage Mexican workers, the president will be pressured to reduce barriers.  There also will be strong pleas for amnesty.  At the same time, the American public, after a decade of heavy immigration from Latin America and Asia, may call for a pause.  The Monitor/TIPP survey found little support for boosting immigration levels, as Mexico would prefer.

Rising immigration has been a major factor driving up the rate of growth of the US population in the past decade.  The Census Bureau reports that the US added 32.7 million people in the past 10 years.  New immigrants and their children accounted for as many as 20 million of that increase.  Some of those questioned in the Monitor/TIPP poll were clearly reacting to these trends.

William Smith, who lives in Youngstown, Ohio, says the president and Congress "must be careful with immigration."  He's opposed to granting amnesty to illegal immigrants, as well as to a guest-worker program.  "Pretty soon all we're going to have are low-paying jobs and these jobs must go to Americans first," he says.  "We have to take care of ourselves."

Glover Ledford, a retired General Motors employee in Livingston, Tennessee, also opposes amnesty and the guest-worker idea.  "We've got too many people," he says bluntly.  He would "build a high fence all around America."

However, Barbara Edens, who works for a car rental company in Hanford, California, takes a more sympathetic view.  "Immigration levels should remain about the same," she says.

A spokesman for US Rep F James Sensenbrenner Jr, R-Wisconsin, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, says the congressman is opposed to amnesty for illegal residents.  He feels that an amnesty program would be unfair to other immigrants who "play by the rules," the spokesman says.  Immigration laws must go through Sensenbrenner's committee.

Ironically, Mexico has serious illegal immigration problems of its own on its southern border with Guatemala.  The Dallas Morning News reported that Mexico deported 160,000 undocumented migrants in 2000, and this year arrests have climbed 25% higher.

Staff writer Steven Savides contributed to this report.

Source: Nando Media and Christian Science Monitor Service 20 March 2001

Immigration Malpractice

The prickliness and glacial ineptitude of the immigration system is old news to millions of would-be Americans.  Immigrants who play by the rules know that the rules are stringent, arbitrary, expensive and very time-consuming.  But even the most seasoned citizens-in-waiting were stunned by the nasty bait-and-switch the federal bureaucracy pulled on them this month.  After encouraging thousands of highly skilled workers to apply for green cards, the government snatched the opportunity away.

The tease came in a bulletin issued by the State Department in June announcing that green cards for a wide range of skilled workers would be available to those who filed by July 2.  That prompted untold numbers of doctors, medical technicians and other professionals, many of whom have lived here with their families for years, to assemble little mountains of paper.  They got certified records and sponsorship documents, paid for medical exams and lawyers and sent their applications in.  Many canceled vacations to be in the United States when their applications arrived, as the law requires.

Then they learned that the hope was effectively a hoax.  The State Department had issued the bulletin to prod Citizenship and Immigration Services, the bureaucracy that handles immigration applications, to get cracking on processing them.  The agency is notorious for fainting over paperwork - 182,694 green cards have been squandered since 2000 because it did not process them in time.  That bureaucratic travesty is a tragedy, since the annual supply of green cards is capped by law, and the demand chronically outstrips supply.  The State Department said it put out the bulletin to ensure that every available green card would be used this time.

After working through the weekend, the citizenship agency processed tens of thousands of applications.  On Monday, the State Department announced that all 140,000 employment-based green cards had been used and no applications would be accepted.

Citizenship and Immigration Services, the definition of a hangdog bureaucracy, says the law forbids it to accept the applications.  The American Immigration Lawyers Association says this interpretation is rubbish.  It is preparing a class-action lawsuit to compel the bureaucracy to accept the application wave that it provoked.

The good news is that immigrants’ hope is pretty much unquenchable.  Think of the hundreds of people standing in the rain in ponchos at Walt Disney World on Independence Day, joining the flood of new citizens now cresting across the country.  They celebrated on July 4th, but for many of them the magic date is July 30, when a new fee schedule for immigrants takes effect, drastically jacking up the cost of the American dream.

The collapse of immigration reform in the Senate showed the world what America thinks of illegal immigrants - it wants them all to go away.  But the federal government, through bureaucratic malpractice, is sending the same message to millions of legal immigrants, too.

Source: nytimes.com 7 July 2007

Immigrant Detentions Rise on US-Mexico Border

Nuevo Laredo, Mexico - The number of illegal immigrants detained on the US-Mexico border jumped in late 2004 as the US government tightened security, although some border agents said it only signalled that more people were crossing the frontier.  The US Bureau of Customs and Border Protection said 194,576 undocumented migrants were arrested crossing the border in the period from 1 October 2004 to 4 January 2005, up almost 13% from the same period a year earlier.

The government said improved security was behind the rise in arrests.  But border patrol agents said the rise in detentions simply reflects how more Mexicans have been crossing the border since President Bush announced last year a plan to legalise the status of illegal Mexican migrants.  "This is clearly tied in with President Bush's call after his re-election to revive the guest worker program," said TJ Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, an association representing 10,000 rank-and-file agents.  "Migrants are rushing over the border to take advantage of that."  The data comes nearly a year after the United States and Mexico agreed to tighten security on their border, seen by some as the soft underbelly for the US war on terror.

"The numbers of detentions are up because we have more agents, more flexibility and more technology that contributes to us stemming the flow," Luis Gonzalez, acting spokesman for the Border Protection agency, said in a telephone interview from Washington.  Recent efforts by US authorities to tighten border security include the allocation of a further 200 agents, four helicopters and an unmanned aerial surveillance drone to the US Border Patrol in Arizona in an initiative last March.

Each year, more than 1 million undocumented migrants attempt to slip across the rivers and deserts that mark the 2,000-mile border in search of work in the United States.  Almost half of them come through Arizona.

Source: reuters.com Thursday 6 January 2005

Arizona Is Now the 17th Largest State

Phoenix - Arizona has grown to the 17th-largest state in population, surpassing Maryland, Wisconsin and Missouri since the 2000 census.  Based on the latest population estimates from the Census Bureau, projections show that Arizona could displace Tennessee as #16 before the end of 2006.  Census estimates released last month showed Arizona at 5.7 million people, growing at an average of 450 people a day.  About 20% of the state's total growth of 165,000 was attributable to international immigration, compared with 28% in the two years after the 2000 census.

Still, Arizona ranked 8th nationally in the number of international immigrants since April 2000.  The bureau makes no distinction between legal and undocumented immigrants.  Newcomers from other states accounted for half of the state's growth in the latest period, while natural growth, consisting of births in excess of deaths, accounted for 30%. In all, the state's rate of growth for the year was 3%.

Source: zwire.com

Tougher Migrant Laws in Works

GOP Legislator views Prop. 200 as Mandate

by Elvia Díaz

Passage of Proposition 200 is inspiring state lawmakers to pursue bills designed to crack down on illegal immigration by giving law enforcement the tools to prosecute "coyotes" and report undocumented immigrants.  Saying he is reacting to a voter mandate, Republican Representative Russell Pearce of Mesa will introduce a bill to ensure undocumented immigrants don't receive such benefits as unemployment pay, government loans, grants, public housing and food assistance.

As one of the main backers of Proposition 200, Pearce believes legislation is necessary because of pending court battles that could permanently narrow the scope of the anti-immigration measure, approved by Arizona voters on 2 November.  The bill will not be tied directly to Proposition 200, thereby avoiding the required three-quarters vote of both the state House and Senate to change a voter-approved initiative.

Pearce will also pursue legislation denying undocumented immigrants the chance to post bail when they commit a serious crime.  Bail is now at the discretion of a judge.  Another bill would allow local police officers to cooperate with immigration authorities, a practice cities like Phoenix prohibit in such cases as routine traffic stops and domestic-violence calls.

Source: azcentral.com The Arizona Republic 7 January 2005

See also:

bulletImmigration Debates (further in this same section) - Legalizing the workers, Bush said in his year-end news conference, will help the government track them, and will let US border control officials chase down "crooks and thieves and drug runners and terrorists, not good-hearted people who are coming here to work."

When it comes to immigration, as in most other actions involving lots of people and requiring lots of cash, each person is continually asking themselves "What's in it for me?"  For the immigrant, the answer is frequently "personal growth" and "great expense".  For the leeches sucking his blood, the rewards may be more tangible and the expenses more intangible.

However, there ARE exceptions.  See also:

bulletJim Corbett (in the Money, Politics and Law section) - Mr Corbett founded a movement that had helped many thousands of refugees from Central America to cross into the US, evading border guards and providing them with shelter and food until they could manage on their own.  He argued that he was not disobeying American law.  After the second world war, he said, the US passed a law that it would not expel or return refugees to a country where they would face persecution.  The prosecution offered a different interpretation of the law: it did not permit just any refugee...

For more articles on immigration, emigration, undocumented workers, overstayers, how to get in: NZ and Australia, costs, H1-B workers, scams, and quality of life please click the "Up" button below to take you to the Index for this Immigration section.

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