Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Good riddance


Sign at immigration march, April 10, 2006

In all the excitement about the immigrant marches in the U.S. cities this week, there has often been no clear statement of what was wrong with the "reform" legislation that died in the Senate last Friday. The House bill, HR4437, is clearly a punitive nativist wet dream, criminalizing all the undocumented and even those who assist them. But the Senate bill was a more complicated animal.

Harold Meyerson describes the Senate effort succinctly in the Washington Post:

Indeed, the deterioration last week of the workable and balanced bill that emerged from the Senate Judiciary Committee was so rapid that it left the immigrant, business and labor groups that had supported the committee's bill confused and divided over how to proceed. Where the committee's bill had established a clear path to legalization for America's undocumented, the bill that was coming to a vote on the floor was unworkable and nearly incomprehensible. Illegal immigrants here for more than five years could stay and become citizens; those in the States for between two and five years would have to return to a designated border checkpoint to be recertified and readmitted by the Citizenship and Immigration Services; those here for less than two years would have to go.

For this system to work, immigrants would have to produce employment records from employers many of whom hired them partly to avoid having to keep employment records. They would have to produce utility bills for apartments they shared with a dozen co-workers. And the CIS would have to perform at a level of efficiency it has never even contemplated. In the end, millions of immigrants now underground would remain underground....

If these guys had written the Civil Rights Act of 1964, they would have tried to preserve segregation.

That is, the bill was becoming a recipe for going from bad to worse, creating incomprehensible and unenforceable multiple tiers of "legality," and very likely leading to more intimidation and exploitation of workers. It deserved to die and let's hope Ted Kennedy does not help resurrect some terrible "compromise."

1 comment:

naomi dagen bloom said...

your valentine's day blog on the west coast grandmother protest was my first visit. glad to be back and read your analysis of immigrant legislation. thanks for clarity.

by the way, Grandmothers of Harlem Against the War will add their voices on April 17, Tax Day, in NYC.

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