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Congress considers special treatment for people who are in the country illegally
January 28, 2013 - Andrea Johnson
Why reward people who came here illegally?
According to an Associated Press story today, Congress is apparently going to take up legislation that would offer a "path to citizenship" for as many as 11 million people who technically don't have a right to live here. Granted, the requirements are fairly stringent. Anyone who wants to jump through all the government's hoops in order to stay here can expect to shell out a lot of money, have his or her background checked out by the local cops and wait for several years before they even have a chance at a green card. According to the Senate plan, these people would have to register with the government, undergo a background check, pay a fine and back taxes to gain probationary status and the right to live and work in the United States.
The U.S. would deport people with serious criminal records or those deemed a threat to national security. People who are granted probationary status would "go to the back of the line" behind people who already applied legally for a green card. Once he gets his green card, the illegal immigrant would have to wait more years, undergo another background check, take English and citizenship classes and pass a citizenship test to be considered for citizenship. They supposedly would not be eligible for welfare or health care benefits under the proposal, though I've seen articles speculating that this legislation could make it easier for illegal immigrants to qualify for health care benefits. People who were children at the time they arrived in the country illegally would not be penalized. Agricultural workers would also get preferential treatment compared to other illegal immigrants, in recognition of the value of their work.
The proposed legislation does have its good points. The legislation would also tighten border security, improve checks on people with visas to make sure they leave the country on time, and make it easier for employers to check an employee's immigration status to avoid hiring people who are here illegally. The bill also would grant green cards to foreign graduates of an American graduate school or Ph.D program who have earned advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or math. We certainly need more immigrants who are Ph.Ds with STEM degrees and other highly skilled immigrants and people who have attended an American university are likely well acclimated to American society.
But let's call this what it is: Amnesty. Congress did the same thing back in 1986 and claimed they'd never do it again. But, 27 years later, here we are again, granting special privileges to all the people who came here illegally since that time. I've interviewed immigrants who waited for 15 or 20 years to come here legally. Some of them are still separated from their families in other countries. The illegal immigrants who are considered for probationary status will get to be with their children in this country and have permission to live and work here while all the legal immigrants in other countries are waiting to come here.
This appears to be an option mainly because Republicans lost the Presidential election and fear they will not win a national election again without the Hispanic vote. It will likely also be popular with wealthy employers who hope to continue to employ immigrants at lower wages than they would have to pay native born Americans. It's Americans who have to compete for blue collar jobs who will lose out under this policy. Americans will also lose out if Congress continues to grant an amnesty to illegal immigrants every 30 years.
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