Saturday, May 5, 2007
Yesterday, I posted a Congressional announcement on the appointment of key members of Congress to the Interparliamentary Group. Here is a comment on the announcement from one of our readers:
Dear Professor Hing
I found a strange anomaly in the announcement regarding the US-MX Interparliamentary Grp.
The announcement clearly states this is a group of Democrats, with some type of "good neighbor" agenda. If you look at the bottom of the list there sits Mike McCaul, a Republican with a notorious reputation, who chairs the Emerging Threats Sub-Committee as part of the Homeland Security Committee. I was present during the Congressional hearing he chaired in Texas this past summer and found him to be caustic, insensitive and inflammatory.
McCaul's presence seemed so unusual I looked up other web sites where the announcement was posted, and sure enough, he is there.
Modern and Classical Languages
University of Houston
In "Investigators Declare Fire Was Arson," Lori Aratani of the Washington Post (here) reports on an early morning fire at a day-labor center near Gaithersburg, Maryland that investigators say was caused by arson. The fire caused little damage but raised concerns about anti-immigrant sentiment. "We see this as a natural consequence to the ongoing debate over immigration,'' said Christy Swanson, program director for Casa of Maryland. "We also consider it a hate crime.''
One reader wrote this in response to the story: "I'm reminded of Tony Blair's words at Auschwitz - that Krytal Nacht did not begin with the breakinbg of glass, but with words, the anti-Semitic slurs in German newspapers and on the streets..."
Friday, May 4, 2007
Tomas R. Jimenez for the Immigration Policy Center writes "The United States long has been a nation of immigrants, but its policies are out of step with this reality. Public policies with regard to the foreign-born must go beyond regulating who is admitted and under what circumstances. The nation needs an immigrant-integration policy that effectively addresses the challenges and harnesses the opportunities created by today's large immigrant population." for the rest of the article, click here.
Pelosi Announces Members of the U.S.-Mexico Interparliamentary Group on Cinco de Mayo
Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced today the Members of the U.S.-Mexico Interparliamentary Group for the 110th Congress, who were recently appointed by the Speaker.
"I am proud to announce that on Tuesday the House of Representatives passed H.R. 347, which recognizes the historic significance of the Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo. This holiday commemorates the victory of the Mexican people at the Battle of Puebla in 1862," said Speaker Pelosi. "Today in the United States, it is also a celebration of the rich contributions that Mexican Americans, and all Hispanics, have made to our country."
"In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I am pleased to announce Members of the U.S.-Mexico Interparliamentary Group for the 110th Congress. The expertise and leadership of these Members will be crucial to House Democrats' efforts to take our bi-national relationship in a new direction," Pelosi said.
"I was pleased to meet yesterday with the President of the Mexican Senate, Manilo Fabio Beltrones, about upcoming discussions between our respective legislators. I am sure that the bilateral relationship will be well served by the depth of knowledge of the new Members of the U.S.-Mexico Interparliamentary Group as they work to increase opportunity and prosperity for people on both sides of the border," said Speaker Pelosi.
The new Democratic U.S.-Mexico Interparliamentary Group members are:
Congressman Ed Pastor of Arizona- Chair
Congressman Linda Sanchez of California- Vice Chair
Congressman Bob Filner of California
Congressman Silvestre Reyes of Texas
Congresswoman Hilda Solis of California
Congressman Ciro Rodriguez of Texas
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona
Congressman David Dreier of California
Congressman Jerry Weller of Illinois
Congressman Luis Fortuño of Puerto Rico
Congressman Connie Mack of Florida
Congressman Michael McCaul of Texas
Study on obstacles to effective access of irregular migrants to minimum social rights / Ryszard Cholewinski. Council of Europe Pub., c2005
American guestworkers : Jamaicans and Mexicans in the U.S. labor market / by David Griffith. Pennsylvania State University Press, c2006
llegal immigration / Hans P. Johnson. Public Policy Institute of California, c2006
Kanstroom, Dan. Deportation nation : outsiders in American history Harvard University Press, 2007
Complementary protection in international refugee law / Jane McAdam. Oxford University Press, 2007
International migration : globalization's last frontier / Jonathon W. Moses. Zed Books, 2006
Peers, Steve EU justice and home affairs law 2d Oxford New York 2006
Civic inequalitites : immigrant volunteerism and community organizations in California / S. Karthick Ramakrishnan, Celia Viramontes. Public Policy Institute of California, 2006
Saito, Natsu Taylor From Chinese exclusion to Guantánamo Bay : plenary power and the prerogative state University Press of Colorado, c2007
He has never called for the deportation of all illegal immigrants, but Lou Dobbs believes the U.S. could pull off such a feat if it really wanted to. The CNN anchor, whose stance against illegal immigration has helped raise his ratings but also fueled criticism, speaks to Lesley Stahl for a profile to be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, May 6 on CBS. Dobbs is against amnesty programs for illegal immigrants and the president's guest worker proposal, so Stahl wonders whether Dobbs thinks the government could deport all illegal immigrants. "I've never called for their deportation,"says Dobbs. "But at the same time, when this president and open-borders, illegal-alien-amnesty advocates say, 'You can't deport them,' my answer is, 'You want to bet?' because this is the United States. I think this country can do anything it sets its mind to," he tells Stahl.
On his current CNN program, "Lou Dobbs Tonight," the debate is often about illegal immigration. Dobbs is a believer in curtailing illegal immigrants' access to some social services. "I happen to think that it is necessary, given the fact that the federal government won't control immigration and won't control our borders," Dobbs tells Stahl. Dobbs says he's not for shutting off medical services, but illegal immigrants' use of other entitlements and the public schools is problematic. "Going to food stamps Ð should taxpayers be paying for food stamps? Should taxpayers be burdened with schools that are overcrowded?" Dobbs asks. "[Taxpayers'] children, therefore, are being denied education. Those are very serious issues," he says.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus accused Dobbs of being anti-Hispanic for these types of views. "I was asked if I'd ever eaten a taco before, for God's sake," says Dobbs, who has been married to a Mexican-American for 25 years. Hispanics have called for his job and Dobbs finds such criticism ironic because he grew up on a small farm and picked crops alongside migrants. "I am probably one of the few people in the debate who actually has [worked with migrants]. I've got the greatest respect for those folks," he tells Stahl.
Bullets, be they rubber or otherwise, don't stop and ask the target for their green card. By Desiree Cristina Velasco
After being invited to speak on the Fourth of July in 1852, Frederick Douglass delivered a historic speech entitled "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?" in which he pointedly asked his hosts, "Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us?" Rather, he lamented, as I do today: "The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you not me…[today] you may rejoice, I must mourn." As I reflect upon the events that occurred on May 1st, during what was supposed to be a celebration in honor of workers and a peaceful demonstration in support of dignity for all persons, but which ended in a police-instigated and violent maelstrom in which innocent people were harmed, the impassioned words of Mr. Douglass reverberate loudly within my ears. Today I ask, what to the Mexican, to the immigrant, to the illegal, to the queer, is the Fourth of July? Are the principles of the Declaration of Independence, of "We the People…" extended to us, to the communities that we serve and represent? Of course, back in 1852, the pernicious Three Fifths Compromise remained the law of the land. Blacks, whether born in the US or elsewhere were denied the rights, privileges and benefits of citizenship. Denied the right to vote, the right to assemble, the right to worship freely, even to read, Mr. Douglass, was right to mourn for his enslaved brothers and sisters. Only after a bloody civil war in which the slave owners and their supporters fought to the death to keep Blacks in perpetual servitude and ensure that the Constitutional provisions that protected "Americans" could never be applied to those of African descent, were defeated, and the 13 th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the US Constitution were enacted, was this to finally change. The language of the 14th Amendment is clear: "…No person nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." Equal protection of the laws includes, among other things, the right to freedom of speech and the right to freedom of assembly. Person means any PERSON, regardless of citizenship, that is found within the jurisdiction of the United States. The jurisdiction of the United States has been interpreted broadly to include any state, US territory, surrounding body of water, or any action in which US agents have authority to arrest and detain people while acting under color of state law even if not operating on US soil. In sum, everyone within the jurisdiction of the US is entitled to due process and equal protection of the law. Everyone! Even aliens, even illegals, even criminals, even alien, criminal illegals, as some would allege, demonstrating in a public park under a lawfully issued permit in the hope of securing a better life not only for themselves, not only for their own children, but for all Americans. Surely this jurisdiction, this protection guaranteed by the US Constitution must extend as far as the public sidewalks surrounding Mac Arthur Park. On paper, of course, they do. However, I am only one of many generations following Mr. Douglass to question whether such protections exist for people of color, for women, for immigrants, or for other minorities, in practice. In fact, more than 100 years after Mr. Douglass concluded his remarks, concluded his public mourning that somber Fourth of July, a contributor to The Black Panther newspaper wrote in 1969: "Terror, intimidation, brutality, and murder have become the order of the day as the police try to keep any progressive or dissenting elements from developing in our communities…the Constitution is based on the idea of the power of the people to enjoy certain "inalienable rights" and exercise those rights. Supposedly it is the people that direct the actions of the government and sanction its authority. Today the Constitution has been distorted and we find 'Government of a few, for the few, and by the few.'" For this writer, the lofty aims of the Civil War amendments were a miserable failure as she continued to see her people harassed, intimidated, and irreparably harmed by wanton and unchecked police brutality. Nearly forty years after the above writer laid down her pen and submitted her article for printing, there are elements of American society, of Los Angeles, that not only rejoice in the failure of those same amendments but would see our country returned to a system of slavery, to a system of apartheid, a caste system, in which only some people have rights, only some people have protections, only some people have privileges, only some people have remedies for the harms perpetrated against them. There are those within our society whose greed and lust for power are not satiated by the government of the few but want a government of the fewer, for the fewer and by the fewer. To achieve this goal, they have attempted to amend our Constitution, namely the 14 th Amendment, to read "citizen" instead of person and to end birthright citizenship for those born to "illegals". These people commend the police for their reprehensible acts of violence against persons involved in a peaceful demonstration arguing that the police should have "deported the illegal alien agitators and criminals." The most severe acts of violence, however, were not directed at "criminals" but at journalists and lawyers. According to official reports, at least seven reporters were attacked and injured by overzealous, baton-waving police officers fully equipped in riot gear and shooting rubber bullets. I'm sure each and every one of them had their papers. Furthermore, there is no escaping the fact that police officers fired indiscriminately into the crowd, prior to issuing an order to disperse, injuring men, women, children and elderly persons REGARDLESS of their citizenship status or racial/ethnic identity. In attendance at the rally were not just undocumented, "criminal" Mexicans, but other Latinos, Koreans, Filipinos, Chinese, various community organizations, contingents of the Labor movement, taxi workers and members of the queer community. Many of whom were in fact, US citizens. All were exercising their constitutional right to peaceful assembly and expression. Moreover, as my former law professor used to say, while the Constitution recognizes that not all of us are constitutional heroes willing to be arrested for violating an unconstitutional police order, there are among us, those who would rather go to jail than to have their constitutional rights abrogated by threats of force by the police. Such constitutional heroes, whether citizen or not, whether documented or not, whether English-speaking or not, must be allowed to abide by their conscience and must not be cowed into silence by the police or any other arm of the state. I am a US citizen by virtue of my birth in the country. I am the offspring of my parents and grandparents who were also born here. Yet, my physical attributes mark me as a "Mexican", possibly even an "illegal". I was present at the marches and rally at Mac Arthur Park joining my voice with those who seek justice and dignity for all those who find themselves within the arbitrary borders of this, the United States. In the eyes of some, therefore, I was the legitimate target of police violence. However, unlike them, I believe it is dangerous to differentiate between groups of people that are more or less deserving of Constitutional rights and protections, especially when many rights, such as the freedom of speech and assembly, are granted to all persons regardless of their citizenship status. In these days, when we again invade sovereign nations draped in the mantle of our "superior" democracy, singing a seemingly unending mantra of our superior principles, our superior freedom, our superior form of government while at the same time destroying anything and anyone deemed to be a threat to our national security, we should consider that perhaps we are not so superior after all. We should consider that when residents of Los Angeles cheer the police for firing on children and elderly persons, perhaps our American Dream has as Malcolm X once so eloquently put it, become an "American nightmare". We should consider that perhaps our democracy is not in fact superior. And that for many people of various colors, creeds and orientations, it has been only a dismal failure, a chimera, fading faster rather than growing stronger, with each passing day. We should consider that when our nations' lawyers and journalists are unsafe and become the target of police violence, ALL of us are in danger, citizen and noncitizen alike. For, bullets, be they rubber or otherwise, don't stop and ask their target for their green card.
Velasco is a UC Davis law graduate.
Thursday, May 3, 2007
The Berkeley Journal of African-American Law and Policy's 2007 Symposium: "Setting the Agenda: Examining the Critical Legal Issues Facing African-Americans and Minority Communities in the 2008 Election"
As the 2008 election draws near, what are the critical legal issues facing minority communities across the United States? How will the lives and needs of these communities influence and be influenced by electoral politics, the 2008 presidential election, and the next administration? What are the key problems and how can we effectively address them as we move towards the next phase in the nation's political life? On November 9, 2007, the Berkeley Journal of African-American Law and Policy will host a symposium focusing on critical legal issues facing minority communities in light of the upcoming 2008 election. Those wishing to participate in the symposium are invited to submit proposals for papers exploring a critical legal issue facing African-Americans and minority communities in the upcoming election. We are interested in papers in a diverse array of fields including, but not limited to, voting rights, health care, fair housing, environmental justice, family law, education, and the criminal justice system. Similarly, we are interested in fielding multiple perspectives on these issues and would welcome proposals from academics, policymakers, practitioners, activists, and community members. Papers selected for the symposium will be published in the Spring 2008 edition of the Berkeley Journal of African-American Law and Policy. We invite you to be a part of the discussion. The symposium will be held at the University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law on November 9, 2007. BJALP will cover the reasonable travel expenses of those selected to participate in the symposium. Proposals should include the title of the proposed paper, an abstract of approximately 250-500 words, and the author?s curriculum vitae. Please also include your full institutional affiliation, e-mail address, and phone number(s). Proposals should be submitted via ExpressO (www.law.bepress.com/expresso) or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org by June 8, 2007. Authors will be notified of the results of our selection process by June 20, 2007. Please contact by e-mail email@example.com with any questions.
Maura De Lorenzo raises questions about the UNHCR in the Washington Post today:
You cannot sue the United Nations. If the UN violates your rights, that's just too bad. There is no judge with jurisdiction, no independent tribunal, no possibility of compensation or justice. A culture of impunity is built into the DNA of the UN, and some of the clearest examples can be found in the work of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), mandated by the UN General Assembly to protect refugees around the world. Wherever UNHCR is responsible for determining refugee status, it fails to meet its own guidelines for fairness. And wherever UNHCR warehouses refugees in camps -- sometimes for decades -- it colludes in human rights violations on a large scale, with support from the American taxpayer.
In some eighty countries, UNHCR decides who is a refugee and who isn't. National governments play a secondary role, if any. In 2005, UNHCR offices received more than 88,000 applications for asylum, making it the largest refugee status decision-maker in the world. Members of the UNHCR staff conduct interviews, assess claimants' credibility, and make legal judgments about whether a claimant has a "well-founded fear of persecution." In other words, UNHCR does globally what the Department of Homeland Security does here. Click here for the rest of the column.
Here is a guest column submitted by Monty Berns. I am not sure that I agree but it is food for thought.
Will some reasonable leaders please stand up. We’re getting close to the 2 week period set aside by the senate to discuss immigration reform yet forces opposed to such reform seem to be doing everything possible to make sure comprehensive immigration reform does not succeed. The first of these forces working against comprehensive reform is big media. Yes Lou Dobbs is correct…big media does hide the truth about immigration! Increasingly since 9/11 we have had a humanitarian crisis that has been largely ignored by the mainstream media. This crisis is blatantly obvious to those who bother to notice but since those affected live in the shadows of society, the problem has simply been ignored or swept under the rug. Occasionally there are reports or stories of families torn apart by Ice raids and deportations. People who have lived & worked here for years, established roots, then suddenly sent back to their country of birth, often a country with which they are no longer familiar. Even though such heartbreaking events have become commonplace the mainstream media has done its best to unjustly conceal the human factor of illegal immigration. Yet poll after poll shows that the vast majority of Americans recognizes that we must deal with our existing illegal immigrant population humanely and fairly. Poll results are clear that most people support a path to citizenship for those undocumented workers that meet a list of criteria. One would assume that with most Americans onboard comprehensive reform should be easily achieved. Unfortunately the mainstream media is, once again, complicit in working against such reform. Just as big media seems to avoid bringing attention to the social and human plight of illegal immigration they are equally negligent in reporting the will of the average American. This is particularly evident on the cable news networks where most immigration related reports seem hell-bent on ignoring this truth and, instead, favor catering to that small restrictionist minority who want to deport every undocumented worker. Unfortunately even though the majority of Americans support comprehensive reform they, partially for the reasons mentioned above, consider other issues like that little problem in Iraq as far more important. So when it comes to immigration reform the voices that are heard are a loud minority who have made illegal immigration their core voting issue. This group of enforcement only supporters also comprises a sizeable chunk of the Republican base so, naturally, the politicians vying for their votes tend to pander to the cruel enforcement only intentions of this group. Not surprisingly many prominent Republican candidates like McCain, Giuliani and Brownback have moved to the right on the issue. How can we possibly have comprehensive immigration reform when these powerful politicians ignore the will of the majority and adjust their viewpoint to appease this restrictionist minority? And since these candidates obviously feel that this minority will play a major role in selecting a Republican presidential candidate it is unlikely that any of the most prominent Republican candidates will lead, as many did last year, a push for comprehensive reform. So the upcoming Republican primaries might, effectively, spell the death of any comprehensive immigration reform effort. Another major factor rallying against immigration reform has really become part of the mainstream media. Yep you guessed it, those dishonest cable news show hosts! It is not surprising that their audience largely comprises that very same republican base that seems to dictate Republican immigration policy! The populist rhetoric of hosts like O’ Reilly & Dobbs is especially effective at veiling the human factor of illegal immigration while dishonestly attempting to justify an enforcement only approach to illegal immigration. If you’re not in favor of total immediate enforcement without any amnesty then you’re an open border anarchist who invites criminals and drunks to our country. These populist demagogues blame all of America’s ills on these undocumented workers. They completely ignore any practical approach to immigration reform that deals with the very ills of which they complain but also treats our existing illegal immigrant population humanely. Equally to blame if comprehensive reform fails will be those democratic leaders who are content to stand on the sideline and happily watch those republican leaders scuttle any attempts to fix the system. Politically these democrats stand to benefit from such a tactic but it is reprehensible to think that anyone would ignore the will of their constituents who want comprehensive immigration reform. For comprehensive immigration reform to succeed we need honest leaders from both sides of the political spectrum to take charge. Republican leaders like John McCain need to stop pandering to that small but loud restrictionist group of the Republican base and democratic leaders need to recognize that a reasonable middle ground must be found. Together with some form of legalization most Americans also favor better border security and stricter interior enforcement. But the most urgent issue is the treatment of the existing 12 million illegal immigrants already living in the country. The status quo is totally unacceptable. It is our humanitarian obligation to make sure this issue is dealt with immediately or we will be endorsing & ignoring the continuance of this hidden humanitarian crisis.
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Jonathan Lipman writes (here) that the Cook County Board rejected Tuesday an attempt to make the county an immigrant-friendly government by forbidding its employees from investigating or asking about anyone’s immigration status. Cook County Commissioner Roberto Maldonado, who has championed the resolution for more than a year, looked visibly upset after the resolution failed on a tie vote with three abstentions. “I’m not going to give up,” Maldonado (D-Chicago) said. “I’m going to bring it back. ... When we fought for civil rights legislation, it did not happen overnight.” The bill, similar to one that passed Chicago City Council last year, would have forbidden county sheriff’s police and other officials from inquiring about anyone’s immigration status unless it was connected to an investigation into other criminal wrongdoing. County services could not be withheld based on immigration status. The most surprising aspect of the vote -- along with four of the board’s five Republicans, the board’s five black Democrats and Commissioner John Daley voted to oppose or abstain on the bill. “There is a big disconnect between the African-American community and the ... Latino community when it comes to this issue,” Maldonado said. “There is a distorted perception out there ... that immigrants ... agree to work for lower wages than the African-American community would be willing to do,” Maldonado said. “It’s absolutely untrue. We take the jobs that nobody else wants.”
Teresa Watanabe and Francisco Vara-Orta in the L.A. Times (here) wrote an interesting report about the immigration marches in Los Angeles and cross the country, which included many fewer participants than the spring 2006 marches. Will there be a new civil rights movement? The jury is out.
Anthony Good, Anthropology and Expertise in the Asylum Courts (Routledge-Cavendish 2006).
Although asylum has generated unparalleled levels of public and political concern over the past decade, there has been astonishingly little field research on the topic. This is a study of the legal process of claiming asylum in the United Kingdom from an anthropological perspective, focusing on the role of expert evidence from 'country experts' such as anthropologists. It describes how such evidence is used in assessments of asylum claims by the Home Office and by adjudicators and tribunals hearing asylum appeals. It compares uses of social scientific and medical evidence in legal decision-making and analyzes, anthropologically, the legal uses of key concepts from the 1951 Refugee Convention, such as 'race', 'religion', and 'social group'. The evidence is drawn from field observation of more than 300 appeal hearings in London and Glasgow; from reported case law and from interviews with immigration adjudicators, tribunal chairs, barristers and solicitors, as well as expert witnesses.
According to "US pushes for visa control on Pakistani Britons" by Alex Spillius and Philip Johnston in The Telegraph (UK) (here), the U.S. government may impose travel restrictions on 800,000 British citizens of Pakistani origin because of concerns about terrorism. The move has been prompted by fears that British Muslim men were behind several major bomb plots. The Americans have been concerned that their principal security risk could actually come from Britain, with whom they operate a visa waiver scheme. Since 2004, Brits travelling to the US do not need a visa if they have a machine-readable passport issued since 1991. Michael Chertoff, the US homeland security secretary, has reportedly told the British Government that British Pakistanis should apply for a visa before travelling to America.
A group of Califorornia State University, Sacramento researchers conducted a survey in the Sacramento area on immigration. For the results, which are generally supportive of allowing undocumented immigrants to remain in the country, see Download final_immigration_report11.pdf
Secretary Chertoff Extends Temporary Protected Status for Eligible Hondurans, Nicaraguans and Salvadorans
U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced today his decision to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designations for eligible nationals of Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador by an additional 18 months. It will allow current TPS beneficiaries from these three countries to extend their status and continue living and working in the United States for an additional 18 months, and will affect approximately 78,000 Hondurans, 4,000 Nicaraguans, and 230,000 Salvadorans. The extension is part of the Administration’s ongoing assistance to Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador in recovering from natural disasters that have affected Central America. Current TPS designations for Hondurans and Nicaraguans expire on July 5, 2007. The current TPS designation for El Salvadorans expires on September 9, 2007. In accordance with a schedule to be announced in forthcoming Federal Register notices, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin processing TPS re-registration applications for eligible Hondurans and Nicaraguans first. USCIS will make an announcement later this summer on the TPS re-registration process for Salvadorans. All TPS beneficiaries have registered with the department and have been provided with biometric and secure identification cards. “Although Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador have made significant progress in their recovery and rebuilding efforts, each country continues to face social and economic challenges in their efforts to restore their nations to normalcy,” said USCIS Director Emilio Gonzalez. “This 18 month extension reflects the United States’ commitment to continue assisting our Central American neighbors on their road to recovery.” Filing periods for these three designations have not yet begun. Applications received prior to or after the announced registration period for each designation will be rejected. Details on where, when and how to file under each designation will soon be published in the Federal Register and additional information will be provided online at: www.uscis.gov.
The Wall Street Journal ran this editorial in response to yesterday's immigration marches:
Yesterday's May Day immigration demonstrations dominated cable TV, but they were more sound than substance. The bigger news is the recent Journal report that illegal border crossings have slowed by more than 10% this year. The Bush Administration credits stepped-up enforcement, but our guess is that the cause is mostly labor supply and demand.
A slump in the housing market has resulted in fewer jobs in the building trades, which are increasingly filled by Latino immigrants. With fewer jobs available, fewer immigrants are headed north. It's another example of the market's ability to determine how much foreign labor our economy needs. It also indicates that immigrants come here primarily to work, not to idle and collect welfare.
We'd like to think these economic realities will inform any legislation produced this year. Based on the selective leaks from Capitol Hill, it's hard to know what kind of "reforms" Congress is cooking up. But smoke from the backroom suggests that the status quo might be preferable to some of the proposed bipartisan compromises. Given that illegal immigration is caused above all by a worker shortage for certain types of jobs in the U.S., any reform that doesn't take into account labor-market needs won't solve the problem and risks making matters worse.
Unfortunately, the immigration draft proposal recently circulated by the Bush Administration all but ignores the economic factors that drive illegal immigration. Aside from that, the proposal is unduly restrictive and thus probably unworkable.
Its anti-family provisions would end the ability of U.S. citizens to sponsor their parents, children and siblings for immigration. In addition to departing from U.S. tradition, this would have a damaging impact on immigrant entrepreneurs, who typically rely on relatives -- think of your dry cleaner or the corner bodega -- to help run their small businesses. It's also a startling about-face for President Bush, who promised immigration reforms that would "encourage family reunification" and repeatedly has said that "family values don't stop at the Rio Grande."
As for dealing with the estimated 12 million illegal aliens already here, the White House is bowing to GOP restrictionists. To gain legal status, an immigrant would have to pay $3,500 in fines and fees for a three-year visa. He could renew the visa once, for another three years (and another $3,500). To get permanent legal residency, he'd have to return to his home country and pay an additional $10,000 fine to re-enter the U.S. (if and when the application is approved). Click here for access to the rest of the editorial.