Why Create Two-tier Discriminatory Immigration System?
Additionally, provisions to let certain populations of immigrants in over others will create a two-tiered system that will only further back-up the already extensive log-jam of those looking to legally apply for citizenship.
After looking over the framework for the National Immigration Reform, put forth by a bi-partisan team of U.S. Senators, I am left wanting in the way of a true road to citizenship.
I applaud the Senators for acknowledging the fact that our immigration system has been broken for some time; but the outlined policies only penalize immigrants who have contributed everything they have to this country based on the failures of our policymakers in the past.
It seems as if the national leaders assigned to this task, 4 Democratic Senators and 4 Republican Senators from around the country, will be seeking to subject millions of undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S. to further hardship and adversity, while unrightfully sparing select populations from the long and daunting prospects for citizenship, a process that will not even become available until proposed enforcement measures are in place.
While I appreciate the provisions looking to bring more graduate students with degrees in the STEM fields, immigrants are capable of contributing in many more ways than just these, as evidenced by the history of this country itself.
Additionally, provisions to let certain populations of immigrants in over others will create a two-tiered system that will only further back-up the already extensive log-jam of those looking to legally apply for citizenship. As it stands, this outline not only incentivizes undocumented immigrants to continue to live in obscurity due to the new impediments to achieve legal status-even more so citizenship-but it will cost Americans considerable money in bureaucratic processes required.
This is on top of the billions already spent to deport over 1.5 million undocumented persons over the past four years, the most of any administration ever in that time span.
This is a population eager to become full-fledged citizens, pay their taxes and live under the protections and services provided to American citizens. The contributions already made to this country in the form of sub-minimum wage pay, zero job protections and the real threat of deportation should be considerable enough to waive the punitive fees suggested by the Senators' outline.
As it stands, the framework provided simply does not create a strong path to citizenship, but rather a process with hurdles at each step that will not even begin until our borders are deemed secure by states already proven to be hostile to undocumented immigrants based on legislation partially struck down by the Supreme Court.
Finally, there is no mention of educational opportunity for the children of undocumented immigrants held to be exempt from the full citizenship process, otherwise known as DREAMers, currently living in the country. Nor is there plan to provide quality educational opportunities to families of the agricultural workers, also to be provided with an expedited process. Including these provisions in any proposed legislation is vital. The current workforce is this country is aging and retiring and will do so more rapidly in the near future. A skilled and qualified workforce of the future is imperative if we are to compete in the 21stcentury and an educated population of immigrants will accomplish this.
Now that President Obama and Congress have come to a consensus on the need to address this important part of our country's future, I call on elected officials and communities around the country to mobilize to let our collective voice be heard.
We will unite on April 10th in Washington D.C. to guarantee a seat at the table for over 11 million people looking to make this country great in the 21st century.
Ydanis Rodriguez is a New York City Council Member
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