Thursday, June 22, 2006

Immigration: Part III-The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there,
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence;
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

-Robert Frost

On May 25th, the Senate approved a wide-ranging overhaul of immigration laws to bolster security at the Mexican border and to grant many illegal immigrants a path toward citizenship. With approximately 11 million illegal immigrants currently residing in the United States, action has been long overdue, but is this the best path?

On the legalization part of the bill provisions divides the currently illegal immigrant populace into three groups:

1. Illegal immigrants here for more than five years could gain their citizenship after working for six years, learning English and paying a penalty and back taxes? How much in penalties? Most immigrants’ work for less than minimum wage (minimum wage being a whole other rant), and once on a “path”, you MUST learn English. How? Are we setting up a free program to teach the English to the different languages that are spoken in America? Or do we leave that to the immigrant to figure out?
2. Illegal immigrants here from two to five years would have to return to an entry point and apply for a guest-worker program. And what if they don’t? And if they do, how much will it cost? How long will it take?
3. Workers here less than two years would have to return to their countries of origin. And how are you planning to enforce this? How many taxpayers’ dollars will this cost? Even President Bush said in his address to the nation that the Catch and Release program who initiated because the government did not have enough space for detainees. Bush asserted that this program will end and asking Funding from Congress. (No! You are asking the taxpayers to pay and not just pocket change but $1.9 BILLION. Why not tax the businesses that have been found to hire illegal immigrants? These are not just small construction businesses, but multi-million dollar corporations like Target and Walmart. The new plan will punish employers who hire illegal immigrants with a fine up to $20,000 and three years in prison after an electronic verification system is established. Ummm…who from Walmart is going to prison? The door greeter?

Security! The bill provisions also authorize enhanced border security measures, including the addition of 370-mile, triple-layer fence along the border. Authorizes President Bush’s plan to send 6,000 National Guardsman to the U.S.-Mexican border. To do what? Oh, provide intelligence and surveillance support to U.S. Border Patrol agents for they cannot catch and detain illegal immigrants (, 5/17/06). "Border State Governors expressed concern that diverting troops to the border would exhaust Guard members already drained by war deployments…and would not have troops available to deal with forest fires or other natural diseases.” (New York Times, 5/17/06) How fast can you say Hurricane Katrina? Shouldn’t a change in border security have been top priority immediately following 9/11? Oh, I am sorry…too many photo ops, too little time.

Using a bulldozer to create a new path and then leaving all the broken trees and shrubs to navigate through is not a better way to get to our destination. For the sake of diverting issues President Bush speaks to the American people like Rameses in The Ten Commandments… "So let it be written, so let it be done," with no guidance or forethought.

This President took a hard line against Iraq. A country thousands of miles and an ocean away-waged war against this country, overthrew its government…killing its people who opposed these outside forces and putting our Americans in danger and yet continues soft policy against the corrupt government right next to us. “The rich are richer and the poor, we are poorer,” said Arturo Sierra, 38, an electrician in Mexico. “The government has taken it upon itself to deliver the country to foreign governments and to the rich Mexicans, who continue exploiting workers with miserable salaries.”

Sending the National Guard “will not stop the flow of migrants. To the contrary, it will probably go up,” as people try to get into the U.S. with hopes of applying for a possible amnesty program, said Julieta Nunez Gonzalez, the local representative of Mexico’s National Immigration Institute. Immigrant support groups estimate 500 people died trying to cross the border in 2005. (, 5/17/06) One Mexican migrant commented, “Even with a lot of guards and soldiers in place, we have to jump that puddle. My family is hungry and there is no work in my land. I have to risk it.”

This new path is sure to take more lives needlessly for the sake of salvaging corrupt relationships in the maze of money.