double standard

I know I’ve got to stop these link posts, but I can’t help promoting this one. The writers of Migra Matters, probably the best source for up-to-date information, resources and analysis on immigration reform on the web, have gone through the House’s STRIVE act, inserting analysis and commentary on different aspects.

While I am certainly more informed than the average person on immigration issues, when the text of the STRIVE act was released I had a headache in a matter of minutes trying to read through it. The Migra Matters analysis, so far just posted for the enforcement and employer verification section, helps to clarify some sections as well as suggest what consequences might result from certain parts of it, were it to become law.

Granted, we are far from the actual passage of a reform bill, but still, it’s important to me to know and understand these things.

By far the most disturbing aspects of this bill are the criminalization of the use of false documents and the fact that it focuses almost exclusively on enforcing border security, which clearly targets Mexican and Central American immigrants, while not strengthening laws that target visa overstayers. I’m not clear on the numbers, but some estimates suggest that 45% of the undocumented immigrants in the country are visa overstays, and under this plan, they are mostly let off the hook, not criminalized, as border crossers would be. Now of course it is far more palatable to the American public to enter the country legally and then stay far beyond the dates allowed, sort of like not renewing your driver’s license on time, or returning some library books late. But crossing the border illegally, no no no, Americans feel that is very bad. But honestly people, what is the difference?

Ironically, these reforms have been promoted as measures of increased national security, but a terrorist has never entered at the Mexican border, and plenty have come into the country and overstayed visas. I’m not suggesting that Flake and Gutierrez are targeting Latinos necessarily, only that it seems unfair. Regarding the false documents, I can attest to the fact that employers are very much co-conspirators in allowing the illegal document trade to become the way it is. Anyone can get a fake social security card on the street for very little money and many employers, including large chain restaurant operations and clearly a lot of other industries, do no checks of these numbers. They hire the employees they want, receive notices every year that alert that the employee’s Social Security number is not correct, and do nothing about it.

So, who, may I ask, is exactly to blame? The worker for entering the country illegally where any number of U.S. companies are foaming at the mouth to employ them for five or six times what they could earn in Mexico? The employer for putting so much demand on the market for hard-working, lower-paid employees, regardless of the legality of their documents? The consumer for flocking to purchase lots of the cheapest goods available, driving the labor market down and manufacturing and production overseas? I mean, this bill makes it all seem so simple. People are here illegally, and we need to legalize them or get them out. But what about the employers? Are they not also to blame? But who, may I ask, is going to go after the big restaurant chains in our service industry, or big agriculture? No, they attack the little guys.

To be honest, I need to read more of the STRIVE act to know what sanctions it takes against employers who hire undocumented workers, but I am under the impression that it does nothing for companies who have employed these workers in the past, while it most certainly punishes the immigrants who are working for these companies today. Have I told you I am going to need to quit Qdoba?

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