A balanced approach to immigration reform

When Governor Bentley left his office on the night of June 2 the state of Alabama took a major step backward and entered again into a George Wallace-era culture of discrimination, hate and injustice.

If I had read this column to myself six months ago, I don’t think I would have believed that these words were mine.

But Alabama is at a crossroads. We must do something to combat the looming crisis that will plague our state if we do not act quickly, but we must act objectively and with common sense.

The Alabama immigration law, commonly referred to as House Bill 56 (H.B. 56) or the Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act, is widely known as the most strict and discriminatory immigration law in the nation.

After numerous lawsuits against the bill, U.S. District Judge Sharon Blackburn temporarily blocked several measures of the law but allowed many key measures to stand, despite pleas from activist groups, attorneys and even the Obama administration.

The measures in the bill are draconian in ideology and process, making it a crime to hire, harbor or transport an illegal immigrant. It makes it a crime for an illegal immigrant to solicit work, bars them from attending public colleges, and allows law enforcement to detain – without bond – any person suspected of being in the country illegally.

One of the most controversial statutes relates to a mandate to public schools to verify and document the immigration status of every student, which is then reported to the state government.

This policy alone has caused a mass exodus of Hispanics from our state school system.

Many schools across the state have seen a substantial drop in attendance and enrollment of primarily Hispanics since the law was allowed to stand, fearing that sending the children to school will expose the child and family as illegal immigrants.

Illegal immigrant parents are now being forced to make contingency plans for childcare with friends and relatives in case they leave for the grocery store and never come back.

Through H.B. 56, our state has made children – regardless of immigration status – the victims of partisan politics, narrow ideology and a complete lack of concern for state progress.

We must begin to ask ourselves tough questions. What part of this law is humane? What aspect of this law promotes the ideals of the American dream? Is this law worth an innocent child not receiving an education?

We must also begin to question our current path to citizenship and its realistic effectiveness for immigrants who are here illegally.

The citizenship process is a long and outdated system that often takes years to complete, and any one simple error in the process can delay a candidate for citizenship for an additional year or more.

Without stereotyping, think about jobs that immigrants typically hold. They often work very long hours, most have families, and they must juggle all of these weights on top of the fact that they are in the country illegally.

With an application process that can take anywhere from one to five years, it is not realistic that all of these immigrants would have the time, ability, money or resources to file for citizenship for themselves and their families.

A balanced federal approach to immigration reform is needed where both sides can be satisfied, and society, as a whole, is able to progress.

We must fundamentally change our citizenship process to make it more expedited, convenient and realistic for the candidates wishing to become citizens. Measures should still be taken to ensure the safety and security of our homeland, but a faster process could be easily implemented.

We must allow a quasi-amnesty policy for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants already in the country. Even with a faster system, nothing could move quickly with a huge influx of more than 12 million applications for citizenship.

With a reformed citizenship process and a quasi-amnesty policy, I would then support strict penalties for individuals found in the country illegally or without documentation. I would support their immediate deportation and would even support Alabama’s measures to bar them from working in the state.

But the status quo is not progressive. We cannot wait for a McCarthy-style witch-hunt for illegal immigrants before we acknowledge a problem.

We cannot allow our state to victimize innocent children who aren’t in school today because they fear the consequences.

We cannot sit on the sidelines while our state is on the verge of chaos.

We must come together to find a balanced approach to immigration to allow our state to take strides towards compromise and progress.

 

Austin Gaddis is a junior majoring in public relations and communication studies. His column runs biweekly on Thursdays. 

  • Anonymous

    Amen Austin

  • Anonymous

    What about the immigrants who came here legally? They should be furious that the government was allowing illegal immigrants. They look the time to be here legally. The problem isn’t immigrants, it’s illegal immigrants. Do you enjoy paying the hospital bills for those who can’t afford it? Now, I’m not saying Alabama has appraoched immigration the correct way, but I think the bill has already done some good.

    • Anonymous

      WRONG!  WRONG! WRONG!  The bill is KILLING the agriculture business in Bama.  I would love to see what happens after you said this to Alabama’s farmers!  We need Immigration Reform passed ASAP for the good of the economy!

      • Jeb

        Yeah! Lets protect those illegal aliens so we can keep our sub-class of slave labor working for below minimum wage and the price of my vegetables low! Wait… what? That is a progressive argument? I thought republicans were supposed to be the elitist racist bigots that are abusing a sub-class for profit… didn’t slave owners make the same argument of killing agriculture business when they were trying to keep slavery legal?

        • Anonymous

          To some extent, I agree.  Keeping immigrants here just to exploit them is a pretty troubling argument.

          However, immigrants dominate agricultural labor not just because many work for very low wages, but because they have an agricultural skill-set that few native-born Americans have.  Far from being “unskilled labor”, agricultural work is one of the most dangerous occupations in the country, and efficient vegetable picking in adverse conditions is outrageously difficult.  Even if agricultural laborers got paid more (and, in my opinion, they should), we would still need groups of people who have an agricultural skill-set that many Latin American immigrants have.  Immigrants working in agricultural jobs do labor native-born people do not want to do, and could not do even if they wanted to.  This is why Georgia had to compel prisoners to pick crops following the passage of their anti-immigrant law– when immigrants were forced out of these jobs, even the most desperate out-of-work Georgians did not apply for these jobs, and even prisoners forced to do the work could not do it well or efficiently.

          (As a historical sidenote: Slave owners seldom made the argument that ending slavery would increase consumer cost; the most common justifications for slavery by slaveowners were moral and paternalistic, arguing that the social structure of a slave society was more moral, safe, and proper than the social structures predicated on free labor.  Pro-Confederacy Brits and Northern Copperheads sometimes made arguments appealing to increasing costs of cotton in their defenses of slavery, but slaveowners and their Southern supporters very rarely made these arguments.)

          • Jeb

            I fail to understand why we should protect illegal immigration simply because an industry built its workforce on illegal labor. Before illegal immigrants did that work, Americans did. Sure, our workforce has evolved into more skilled labor, but that is not to say there is NOBODY that can do the work. This nation has been pushing job training as a big deal for years now. Obama himself is promoting job training for “the jobs of tomorrow,” or green jobs. If you look at the statistics regarding the effectiveness of these green jobs skills training, you will see it has been an utter failure. Why don’t we instead invest in an industry that clearly needs laborers. You say that agriculture is by no means unskilled labor, so lets get some people in there that can do the job.

            I agree that agricultural laborers should get paid more. Legal laborers anyway. Then maybe Americans would work those jobs. Instead, people say we have to keep illegal laborers here because they work for less money and if farmers had to actually pay fair wages, then the price of our food would go up. My response is, so what? I would expect higher prices if an entire industry was suddenly forced to comply with laws that they were formerly not complying with. The left in this country appears ready to pay higher prices for energy if it means we have clean energy… so why not pay more for food by enforcing our immigration laws? This isn’t a race argument… I’m simply not understanding how the left can equate food prices to immigration.

          • http://twitter.com/Weepingcrone Weepingcrone

            Several Americans have been trying to work with farmers, to get them to mechanize where they can, stagger their workers hours (early morning, or early evening), safer working conditions and better pay. They do not want to do anything to attract Americans or Legal immigrants. They are greedy evil people. Same evil mindset, that gave us slavery hundreds of years, ago. We are still dealing with that atrocity, between black and white Americans, today. There would be no conflict, if these farmers and Illegals, would have Obeyed the Rule of law.

          • http://twitter.com/Weepingcrone Weepingcrone

            False Anti-American bigoted propaganda. Americans are the hardest workers in the world. They will work, under the harshest conditions. Just ask our soldiers, fighting for you in Afghanistan and their families, they have had to leave behind.

          • http://www.facebook.com/brandon.gary Brandon Gary

            “Americans are the hardest workers in the world.” False. 
            http://www.businessinsider.com/the-hardest-working-countries-in-the-world-2011-4#9-usa-6
            http://www.forbes.com/2008/05/21/labor-market-workforce-lead-citizen-cx_po_0521countries.html
            http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/siesta-what-siesta-mexican-work-longest-hours-in-world/2011/04/27/AF3O0yTF_story.html

            Claiming something to be true and it being true are not the same thing. Making impassioned arguments based on gut-feel and emotion is not the way to have rational discourse. 

        • http://twitter.com/Weepingcrone Weepingcrone

          Whoops, I just basically repeated your post. Sorry.

      • http://twitter.com/Weepingcrone Weepingcrone

        Gee. Ever wonder what the plantation/slave owners did, after the Civil War, when they lost their 4,000,000 slaves? They paid for their sins, then had to adjust. The corrupt farmers, will have to do the same. They are suffering the consequences of their crimes. No one, feels sorry for a criminal or traitor. They should have been using legal labor.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OK46YND5XA5BV4QYJPLC5JK5OE Hacim Obmed

        You sound like one of those plantation holders who complained that they would go broke without slave labor. If a farm cannot make a profit by paying a living wage to honest certified american workers, then they should go broke. These farmers have no problem with taking help from their follow citizens when it comes to agricultural price supports and other government programs. Yet when it comes to simply following the labor laws they are totally selfish and they import foreigners as cheap labor  rather then hire Americans. Now that Alabama has sent some of these illegals packing thousands of legal workers are lining up for jobs all over the state. It is about time we helped our own people who are suffering and just want any kind of job.

    • Anonymous

      Alabama’s undocumented immigrants pay around $130 million in Alabama taxes each year, and they only cost the state between $112-117 (I’ve seen different estimates), so the idea that they’re costing Alabama taxpayers is ludicrous– they ARE Alabama taxpayers, and the state in in the black as far as income-to-expenses are concerned.  What good has this awful bill done except for break up families, deprive the state of taxpayers and workers, and fragment our communities?

    • http://twitter.com/Weepingcrone Weepingcrone

      No. The problem is immigration. We bring in 1,600,000 Legal immigrants, every year. Far too many, when we have 47,000,000 Americans on foodstamps, 30,000,000 desperately unemployed or underemployed, college grads can’t find jobs. We need a moratorium on all immigration. Illegal immigrants have to go, forever. Legal immigration has to be lowered to a sensible degree, that benefits the American people, not the world. No other country in the world, would tolerate the influx of Illegal or Legal immigration, like we do. We demand Equal Rights for the American people. The right to this country, that we have fought, bled and died to obtain. If others want it, let them do the same.

      • Jeb

        While I agree that illegal immigration must be curtailed, I think you would find it hard to argue that our immigration process could not benefit from some serious reforms. It takes far too long and costs far too much money for somebody to immigrate legally to this country. That simply encourages individuals to immigrate illegally. The system must be fixed to streamline the process.

        Your point about the economic impact is valid. During times of economic hardship, the numbers of immigrants admitted into the country should be reduced in order to alleviate some of the burden. The government must walk a fine line, however, to avoid politicizing the issue and turning it into a nationalistic us-against-them mentality.

        • Anonymous

          Jeb,  you sound like a reasonable person.  It is clear that the immigration bureaucracy is too slow and cumbersome.  I agree that all immigration processes should be streamlined, both on the receiving side and on the enforcement side of things.  But how efficiently our immigration system runs is a totally different subject from what our immigration policy is.  We as a nation need to be able to decide and enforce decisions about how many, and what kind of immigrants we want to accept.  I think we should limit family-based immigration to the nuclear family only (spouses and minor children) but allow more people to immigrate based on education and skills.

          But I think that people around the world are going to have to accept the fact that not everyone that wants to immigrate to the US will be allowed to, per our immigration policies.   The denial of this simple fact has resulted in the huge number of people in the country illegally, which dwarfs the population of entire states.

          • oregonlaw

            Spouses and minor children? We already limit family-based immigration to immediate family, which is narrower for residents than it is for citizens. Even US Citizens can only bring in adult sons and daughters  (current processing date Jul. 22, 2004) or who sons and daughters who are married (current processing date Sep. 22, 2001) or brothers and sisters (current processing date Jun. 15, 2000) with a nearly  generation-long wait – and that’s for the countries not subject to WORSE processing times. (http://travel.state.gov/visa/bulletin/bulletin_5572.html)
            So you would not let a productive immigrant bring his or her aging parents here so they can be near grandchildren, near to hospitals and other care, and so on? What about an immigrant who wants to bring his brother here from another part of the world. For me, my brothers are all the family I have regular contact with aside from my wife and children. Are you saying you would rather that immigrant had to leave, take all that knowledge and skill and go somewhere else with it because of family.
            Something to think about…

          • Anonymous

            Yes, that’s true.  I would change the immigration system to let in more immigrants based on education, and fewer based on family ties.  And I would limit family ties for either a greencard holder or US citizen immigrant to spouses and minor-aged children.  No parents, no siblings, married or otherwise, no cousins, uncles, etc.  You ask whether that’s fair.  Yes, it is fair.  After all, it’s the emigrant’s choice to leave their country behind.  Part of making that choice is a choice to leave their family behind and go to a different country.  That is an affirmative action on their part.  And there is nothing stopping them from visiting their family in their home country how ever often they want to, so long as they reside the required amount of time in the US to meet their greencard requirements if they are not already a US citizen.

            The bigger picture behind all of this that many people forget is that our immigration system is oversubscribed.  Even though we are the most generous country in the world regarding the number of green cards that we give out (over a million each year), there are simply millions and millions more who want to immigrate here but cannot because we do not have open borders.

            I believe that to allow chain migration of extended family members gives many people a false hope in other countries that they can immigrate here, when some of them face a decades-long wait, as you describe.  I also believe this decades-long wait is what for some, might encourage them to come and stay illegally.

      • Anonymous

        Are you aware that this entire country is made up of immigrants? Unless you are full blooded Native American, you are either an immigrant, or a descendent from immigrants. America is a giant melting pot, and the whole idea is diversity. I hate it when people like you try to blame all the problems in this country  on illegal immigrants, and even more stupidly, immigrants. Go through your family history and unless you are Native American, your ancestors were immigrants. Most of these people are just looking for a better life for their children. If you’re afraid of the competition, then work harder, but I doubt you’re looking to do hard labor like they are. As for their children, why should they be punished? If in the future they become legal, educated, and get a job over someone who has been here legally then good for them. They are living the American dream. The person who lost out obviously hasn’t worked hard enough to be the best. Get over yourself. 

        • Anonymous

          Are you saying that because any of us are descended from immigrants that we are obligated to allow unlimited numbers of immigrants?  That’s silly.

          • Anonymous

            It’s not like everyone in the world is dying to come to America. Let’s not get arrogant here either…

      • oregonlaw

        Where do you get your statistics of 1.6 million legal immigrants? Those numbers are way too high. According to the census, the agency that keeps track of those numbers of net immigrants, in 2008-2009 we brought in fewer than 900k immigrants. http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0005.pdf
         
        The highest number in any year in the current statistical abstract was 2001-2001 at fewer than 1.1 million.For a country of 300 Million people, if we want to grow our economy by only 2% per year, which is better than we have been…we would need to grow our numbers of employment and workers by roughly 6 million per year. We have a birth rate of 4.25 Million per year and a death rate of nearly 2.5 Million per year as of the 2008 statistical abstract. http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0078.pdffor a net growth of 1.775 Million people per yearwhich means…We need about 4 MILLION immigrants per year to stay put. We need immigrants buying products and services. We need immigrants buying houses. We need immigrant entrepreneurs starting businesses, and we need immigrant employees working at those businesses alongside existing workers. You can hate the math, but you really can’t argue about the facts. We need immigrants.

  • Anonymous

    Well put Mr. Gaddis.  AND you are hearing this from a 33/white male Republican.  I agree with your point of view 100%!  Keep it up!

    • http://twitter.com/Weepingcrone Weepingcrone

      What does the color of your skin, gender or political party have to do with ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION? This is nation vs. nation. Our country, against the world. We have the right, just like every other country to deny entry to anyone, who wants to come here. Even legally. We do not have to let anyone in. That is a fact. This constant attack on the Equal Rights of U.S. citizens, is appalling. The U.S. belongs to the descendents of the American people, who have fought, bled and died to get and to build this country. It does not belong to the world. Mr. Gaddis is an ANTI-AMERICAN BIGOT. Anyone who agrees with his hatred for this country, well…………….look in the mirror.

      • Anonymous

        “The U.S. belongs to the descendants of the American people, who have fought, bled, and died to get and to build this country. It does not belong to the world.” 

        Where do you think the American people that we’ve descended from came from? This country was built by immigrants. Unless you believe the only people who have a right to be here are descendants of Native Americans, but I highly doubt that’s what you meant by your comment.

        • Anonymous

          No, this country was not built by immigrants.  It was built by natives who are descendants of immigrants, and a minority of immigrants.  I am not an immigrant, I was born here.  At no time has the US had more immigrants than native born citizens.

  • http://twitter.com/Weepingcrone Weepingcrone

    The only hatred, discrimination and injustice are being lobbied towards our AMERICAN CITIZENS and AMERICAN CHILDREN. AUSTIN GADDIS would deny our American children the same equal rights as the ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT CHILDREN and every child in the world. The right to a homeland and their sovereign nation. These ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT CHILDREN and their families are suffering, because of the lawless criminal immoral behavior of their ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT PARENTS. We owe them nothing. This IS NOT THEIR COUNTRY. PERIOD.

    This over-the-top exaggeration of the suffering of these children, just because they have to move, is hilarious. We are encouraging the ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS to go home. This is not their home. It is the home of the American people and our American children. We, as the owner, have the right to secure our home from invasion.

    This article, is just another attack on the CITIZENS of this sovereign nation. Anti-AMERICAN BIGOTRY and HATRED, at its best. The only victim, of the organized crime of ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION, are the CITIZENS of the sovereign nation. The ILLEGALS are the bad guys and must be punished. Going home, really, is not much of a punishment.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OK46YND5XA5BV4QYJPLC5JK5OE Hacim Obmed

    The United States has one of the most generous immigration policies in the world. Each year more than 10 million new people apply for visas to immigrate to our country and we can only admit a little more then 1 million.  Hence, as with a selective university, not everyone can get in and many applicants are rejected.  As a result some people feel that they are entitled to avoid the legal admissions process, jump the line and just sneak across our borders like thieves. No one knows exactly how many “Illegal Immigrants” of this sort are in the country but the estimates are that it is over 11 million. These people are law breakers and there is no excuse for their behavior just as there is no excuse for a person who jumps the ticket line at a rock concert. When they are caught they should be thrown out without exception and they should not be allowed to reenter under any circumstances. If they are not treated firmly it is unfair to the people who follow the legal admissions process. It is also unfair to the citizens of this country since the jobs done by Illegals are not available to those who are property certified to work inside our country. This problem increases  unemployment especially for our blue collar workers, young people and minorities. This is bad enough but an added problem is that Illegals seldom pay there proper taxes and they use more then their share of welfare services. This causes loss of revenue and increased expenses for local and state governments.  We are a land of immigrants and we are second to none in welcoming legal immigrants. Legal immigrants are our honored guests and they are entitled to work and to every other consideration. Illegal Immigrants are trespassers and criminals are we owe them nothing except a ticket home.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Arrchie-Bunker/100002458145605 Arrchie Bunker

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/reagan-insider-gop-destroyed-us-economy-2010-08-10 There are 3,200,000 3.2 MILLION JOBS OPENINGS ?? http://www.cnbc.com/id/44838614

    UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS ARE NOT CRIMINALS. Its a Civil Matter.

    The whole thing is perplexing to people who don’t understand that being an illegal immigrant in and of itself is not a crime. The most pervasive comments made in news stories about Secure Communities go a little like this: “Illegal immigrants are what they’re called — they’re considered criminals by mere definition. Illegals who broke a bunch of laws to enter and live here should be subjected to immediate arrest and deportation — that’s fair for everyone.”

    That’s not accurate, but a lot of people have that same misunderstanding — even law enforcement professionals.

    During a teleconference last month on the troubles that Secure Communities is bringing to local law enforcement agencies, a few sheriffs on the call commiserated about their misunderstanding of immigration violations.

    “I was always told it was a felony federal violation of law and was always under the impression that turning over any illegal immigrants (to ICE) was mandated by federal law — and so did my employees,” said Sheriff Ed Prieto of Yolo County, Calif. “But after we met with the Mexican consulate in Sacramento we learned it’s not. Then I started looking into how many of our people are being deported before trial and I became very uncomfortable contacting ICE for nonviolent offenders.”

    Kane County, Ill., Sheriff Patrick Perez said that “90 percent of law enforcement officers believe (just being an illegal immigrant) is a crime, but I learned after talking to an immigration judge that it is just a civil offense.”

    Sara Dill, a member of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Immigration and a member of the ABA’s Criminal Justice Council, explained it to me this way: “States are seeking to criminalize what is only a civil violation in federal law.” Dill said that failing to get a permit for home construction is one example of a civil, not criminal, violation. “Putting illegal immigrants in a criminal context confuses merely being present in the United States without authorization with crimes such as falsely claiming citizenship or identity theft, which are crimes under federal law.”

    Everyone knows that of the universe of illegal immigrants, some have committed nonviolent and violent crimes — and everyone believes these should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

    But believers of following “the letter of the law” cannot continue equating all illegal immigrants living in this country with criminals, who have plenty of civil rights of their own. That’s not the American way.

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/reagan-insider-gop-destroyed-us-economy-2010-08-10

    http://www.usdebtclock.org/

    Immigration reform would generate $4.5 to $5.4 billion in additional net tax revenue over three years,” the letter says. “The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office scored the bi-partisan 2007 comprehensive immigration reform bill that was proposed in the Senate as increasing federal revenues by $15 billion over the 2008-2012 period and by $48 billion over the 2008-2017 period.”

    Studies from groups across the political spectrum have proven the economic and fiscal benefits of comprehensive immigration reform. By requiring illegal immigrants to register with the government, pay fees and back taxes, and correct their status, we can drastically expand our tax base. A report by the Center for American Progress found that passing comprehensive immigration reform would generate $4.5 to $5.4 billion in additional net tax revenue over three years. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office scored the bi-partisan 2007 comprehensive immigration reform bill that was proposed in the Senate as increasing federal revenues by $15 billion over the 2008-2012 period and by $48 billion over the 2008-2017 period.

    In addition to expanding our tax base, economists have proven that comprehensive immigration reform would also increase wages for native workers, thereby boosting tax revenues generated by all workers. The CATO Institute found that forcing undocumented immigrants to get right with the law by registering with the government would boost the incomes of U.S. households by $180 billion in 2019, which would also lead to increased government revenues, without increasing tax rates.

    Just like our budget deficit, immigration reform is an issue that we cannot afford to ignore. Bipartisan proposals that are tough, fair, and practical have garnered support from across the ideological spectrum in Congress, as well as from President Bush and the current administration. Comprehensive immigration reform would clearly help us reduce our deficit and debt, and would do so without raising tax rates.

     US economy largely unaffected by illegal immigration

    WASHINGTON — A study released Wednesday concludes that illegal-immigrant workers do not drain jobs or tax dollars and have a neutral impact on the U.S. economy.
    Because illegal immigrants occupy a small share of the work force — about 5 percent — and work low-skilled jobs at lower wages than other workers, their overall influence on the economy is trivial, according to the report, sponsored by the Migration Policy Institute, a pro-immigration think tank in Washington.
    “The fate of the U.S. economy does not rest on what we do on illegal immigration,” said Gordon H. Hanson, author of the report and economics professor at the University of California-San Diego.
    Illegal immigrants contribute a tiny 0.03 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, with that gain going to employers who save money on cheap labor, the report says, while their cost to the economy is 0.10 percent of GDP, which mainly comes from public education and publicly funded emergency health care.
    The net impact at minus 0.07 percent of GDP means that illegal immigrants have an essentially neutral effect on the economy, Hanson said.
    The report does not factor in the spending or entrepreneurship that illegal immigrants contribute to the economy, said Marc Rosenblum, senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute.
    Where illegal immigrants do have a substantial impact, Hanson added, is in specific labor-intensive and low-skilled industries such as agriculture, construction, hospitality and cleaning services, where the share of native-born workers has dropped precipitously.
    Because the U.S. has dramatically raised the education level of its adult population in the last 50 years — going from about 50 percent of all working-age adults without a high school diploma in 1960 to just 8 percent today — the native-born, low-skilled work force has shrunk, while employers continue to require low-skilled workers.
    This leaves room for illegal immigrants to take such jobs at a low cost, the report says.
    Illegal immigrants now account for 20 percent of working-age adults in the U.S. who don’t have a high school degree.
    While the influx of illegal immigrants is one of the factors keeping low-skilled wages stagnant, the biggest losers in the current system are legal low-wage workers, both native and foreign born, who compete with the illegal immigrants, Rosenblum said.
    Meanwhile, employers reap higher profits because of lower labor costs and more productive businesses.
    The solution to this imbalance, proposed by the Migration Policy Institute, is to provide more visas and legal channels for unskilled workers to enter the U.S.
    Today, low-skilled workers must have a green card — effectively requiring them to have close family members in the U.S. — or obtain a temporary work visa.
    “We really need to approach migration control comprehensively by both strengthening enforcements and creating legalization mechanisms that will control the unauthorized population and improve the economic outputs that we get from immigration,” Rosenblum said.
     

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Gaddis,

    the trouble with your suggestion – legalize virtually all people in the country illegally, and then implement enforcement – is that we have heard this same tune before.  In 1986 we had an identical situation, except that the number of people in the country illegally was only 3 million at the time.  US citizens were promised enforcement at the border and interior enforcement including worksite enforcement in exchange for legalization.  We were told that the enforcement would stop illegal immigration.  While some or all of the legislators and President Reagan  were most likely sincere about enforcement, the fact is that the promised enforcement needed to prevent more people from coming here illegally never occurred.  Special interests have succeeded during the last 25 in making sure that effective enforcement never takes place.  In fact, enforcement has been so weak that we now have over 5 times the illegal population than was originally legalized 25 years ago.

    In short, from our experience over the last 25 years, there is no reason to believe promises of enforcement. We  need to see the enforcement take place first.

    Furthermore,  you suggest that you would not be sympathetic to the people who would arrive or overstay illegally after the current illegal population is legalized.  Why would your sympathies harden suddenly just because of an arbitrary date?   I am skeptical that you or any other pro-legalization person would become pro-immigration enforcement after any legalization.

  • oregonlaw

    I appreciate your speaking out on this issue. I only write to highlight that most families with immigration issues do not need “citizenship” because there are several statuses that are documented before citizenship. 
    Lawful Permanent Residency (green card status) has most of the benefits of citizenship, except for voting and jury duty. Also, Asylees, who have a well-founded fear of returning to their homeland, can stay in the US for years. Similarly, non-immigrant status, with any of several visas or temporary status, permits an alien to stay in the US for sometimes many years, to work, to buy a home, and be part of the fabric of our society. 

    Minor changes in our laws or administrative regulations would solve the problem of being “illegal” by finding a way to make it “legal.” According to so many opponents, it’s the illegal word they dislike. So make that status legal by requiring an application, collecting fees, and approving some lawful status, and we can have many families step out of the shadows and fully contribute to our great nation.

    Policies such as Alabama’s new law are destined to fail, as all of our restrictionist laws have failed. We need immigrants to come, bring drive and ideas, bring investment, and build our nation, as we always have. Without them, we will literally die off and cease being relevant. Those are the statistical facts of having declining birth rates and an aging population in the US.

    I hope Alabama sees the folly of this law before it ceases being relevant.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OK46YND5XA5BV4QYJPLC5JK5OE Hacim Obmed

      The law will not fail unless the people lose their will or the authorities lose their nerve and fail in their duty. All good citizens must defend the nation against infiltration and illegal occupation by foreigners. It will be done. The citizens will never forgive the occupiers or those who collaborate with the occupiers. No Amnesty. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OK46YND5XA5BV4QYJPLC5JK5OE Hacim Obmed

    Its nice that this young man feels free to get on his high horse and admonish the governor about the treatment of illegal immigrants in Alabama. He has a high spirit which is to the good. On the other hand, his youthful pretense to know something about George Wallace and The “bad old days” of Jim crow and the KKK are laughable.Some of us are old enough to know what those days were really like. The laws of that time were evil because they discriminated against people for what they were and how they were born. This was not right and everyone knew it deep down, even Wallace. The current laws are directed against people who have done something very wrong. Their illegality acts start the moment they secretly infiltrate our country, sneaking across the border like thieves burglarizing a home. They do this knowingly and with full knowledge of the consequences. They thus scoff at our laws, our cultural traditions, and at our identity as a nation.After gaining entrance they do further harm, taking jobs, earning money and thus greatly damaging the vital interests of the 25 million Americans who are currently unemployed and disparate for work.  They thus violate laws designed to protect the american labor market so that even the weakest members of our society will have a good opportunity to find honest employment at a decent wage. The Governor  of Alabama is sworn to uphold the law and to defend the people against invasion and occupation by foreigners. He is simply doing his duty and the real shame is that prior official of the state have neglected their responsibilities. This has allowed the illegal occupation of Alabama to grow and fester. It has reached the point where inforcement can have drastic and tragic innocent third parties (particularly the plight of children born to mothers who are illegally in Alabama). When things reach this sort of point, urgent action is needed to restore the rule of law. Delay just makes matters even worse.