What's the Best Immigration Policy?

With the news and bloggers returning to a discussion of immigration this weekend as the Democratic candidates vie for the Latino and Hispanic vote (more here) and the Republican candidates try to show they are the toughest on the undocumented, here's ten point immigration reform plan TalkLeft supports:

1. We need a comprehensive program that allows undocumented immigrants from all nationalities and living in the U.S. to obtain legal permanent residency.

2. Future immigrants should also be able to come here legally and safely, have access to permanent residency, and not fear criminal prosecution for unlawful entry or exit.

3. Immigrant workers’ rights should be promoted and protected; employer sanctions and the criminalization of work must be ended. Labor laws should be strictly enforced, and immigrant workers should have the freedom to join unions to improve wages and working conditions.

4. The human rights of all immigrants should be respected in the enforcement of immigration laws throughout the U.S. and at the nation’s borders.

5. Immigrants should be able to adjust their status and reunite with families in a fair and timely way. [More...]

6. There should be an end to unfair political asylum and deportation processes and other barriers to acquiring and maintaining permanent residency.

7. All immigrants should have access to all public services and benefits including driver licenses, higher education, and health care.

8. Ensure legal access and fair treatment of immigrants who are detained, or in political asylum or deportation procedures.

9. We need foreign policies that address the root causes of migration, such as sustainable development and fair trade agreements with other countries.

10. Protection, fairness, equality and benefits should be extended to all immigrants, without sacrificing the rights of some for the rights of others.

A shorter version from the Immigrant Solidarity Network:

1) No to anti-immigrant legislation, and the criminalization of the immigrant communities.
2) No to militarization of the border.
3) No to the immigrant detention and deportation.
4) No to the guest worker program.
5) No to employer sanction and "no match" letters.
6) Yes to a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
7) Yes to speedy family reunification.
8) Yes to civil rights and humane immigration law.
9) Yes to labor rights and living wages for all workers.
10) Yes to the education and LGBT immigrant legislation.

Democrats should say no to a border fence and mandatory ID cards. The undocumented should not have to leave their families and return to their home countries while awaiting re-entry at the back of the line, which will take years. Drivers' licenses should be available to the undocumented as well as the ability to open bank accounts. They must be encouraged to come out of the shadows and live without fear.

Our immigration policy must respect basic human rights. As NNIRR says(pdf)

We call for a national immigration policy in the U.S. built upon the principles of human security with dignity, justice, and equality, and that uphold the civil and human rights of all people, regardless of their race, color, class, religion, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability, immigration or citizenship.

Do any of the Democrats running support all or even most of these positions? No. But they are better on immigration than the Republicans.

< Arizona to Increase Prosecution of Undocumented at Enormous Cost | Candidates on Sunday Morning News Shows >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Agree (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by koshembos on Sun Jan 13, 2008 at 05:36:00 AM EST
    The only concept I would, I heard from a Prof from Columbia University: the US should work for a North American Common Market consisting initially of Canada, the US and Mexico modeled after the EU with open borders, shared work force, common project that cover more than one country, etc.

    Although this doesn't solve the Central American immigrants problem, it does address the major Mexican problem and to a lesser degree the Canadian one. (The latter is not a big news item due to a common language and the lack of racial overtones.)

    Richardson was the best. (4.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Ramo on Sun Jan 13, 2008 at 01:47:55 AM EST
    Unless you want to count Kucinich, 'cuz I'm sure he was the best.  Unfortunately for the debate, he's no longer in it.

    Both Obama and Clinton voted for the wall in 2006.    I would assume that Edwards would've voted the same way.  Both supported the immigration compromise bills, and both supported the Dream Act (in-state tuition for undocumented students who went to high school in the relevant state for a few years).  In the immigration debate, Obama was toying with voting against the consensus from the left.  And during the drivers' license argument, Obama was on the left, Edwards on the right, and Clinton vacillating, eventually swerving right.

    So of the big three, I'd say that Obama is the srongest; but as in most domestic issues, the actual differences are fairly marginal (drivers' licenses not being a federal issue).

    Border Fence (none / 0) (#1)
    by Jgarza on Sun Jan 13, 2008 at 01:06:50 AM EST
    I don't think people understand how a border fence it seen in south Texas.  It really is like the Berlin wall for a lot of people. I think you really need to have spent some time in south Texas to realize connected the culture, economy, and people are with their neighbors on the otherside.

    Here is a good article from the NYtimes yesterday

    On learning English: (none / 0) (#3)
    by Ramo on Sun Jan 13, 2008 at 02:02:44 AM EST
    "I'm in favor of comprehensive immigration reform, which includes tightening our border security, sanctioning employers to employ undocumented immigrants, helping our communities deal with the costs that come from illegal immigration, getting the 12 million or so immigrants out of the shadows. That's very important to me. After 9/11, we've got to know who's in this country. And then giving them a chance to pay a fine, pay back taxes, learn English and stand in line to be eligible for a legal status in this country."

    Obama supports a system that allows undocumented immigrants who are in good standing to pay a fine, learn English, and go to the back of the line for the opportunity to become citizens.

    Looks like they have the same unfortunate policy.

    links must be in html format (none / 0) (#11)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Jan 13, 2008 at 08:49:03 AM EST
    or they skew the site and then I have to delete the entire comment since Scoop, the blogging platform used here, doesn't allow comment editing, only deletion.

    There is a link button on the top of your comment box. Please use it. Thank you.


    Jeralyn, re: Obama's family reunification policy: (none / 0) (#4)
    by Ramo on Sun Jan 13, 2008 at 02:07:24 AM EST
    Obama was pretty important on that fight (see Obama-Menendez).  In fact, there were rumors that he'd vote against the compromise on that basis:

    Republican negotiators are expected to oppose family-reunification amendments, which are central to the efforts this week by Obama and other Democratic presidential candidates. Conversely, groups representing Hispanic immigrants are opposed to the bill unless family provisions are added to the measure.


    links must be in html format (none / 0) (#12)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Jan 13, 2008 at 08:50:32 AM EST
    or they skew the site and then I have to delete the entire comment since Scoop, the blogging platform used here, doesn't allow comment editing, only deletion.

    This one is right on the border.

    There is a link button on the top of your comment box. Please use it. Thank you.


    Under this policy (none / 0) (#5)
    by roy on Sun Jan 13, 2008 at 03:42:51 AM EST
    What legal consequences, if any, are there to a non-citizen who enters the country without permission?

    well roy, as near as (none / 0) (#6)
    by cpinva on Sun Jan 13, 2008 at 04:06:07 AM EST
    i can tell.......................none. one could argue, with some justification, that adoption of this 10 point program would amount to an "open border" policy.

    to be blunt, if there aren't any adverse repercussions, for entering the country illegally, why bother having an immigration policy to begin with? it's an exercise in futility.

    certain aspects of this program, such as addressing the home country issues, i'm certainly in favor of. i dare say most reasonable people would be.

    but, in total, it amounts to a wholesale amnesty program for "undocumented" immigrants; an insult to those who took the hard, but legal path to entry and citizenship.

    realistically, any candidate who endorses this, in its entirety, as part of their platform, can probably kiss the general election (should they be nominated) goodbye.


    What is the cost to (none / 0) (#8)
    by Wile ECoyote on Sun Jan 13, 2008 at 05:44:41 AM EST
    the taxpayer?

    How about the millions of people who have been trying to legally enter the US for years.  Would it not be a slap in the face to them?  Breaking the law would have advantages.

    What you don't address is "Why?" (none / 0) (#9)
    by jerry on Sun Jan 13, 2008 at 06:45:42 AM EST
    I am sympathetic to the immigrants, but you haven't explained why your plan is important.  And I just don't get it.

    At another forum yesterday where the owner was arguing to reform the 14th to stop anchor babies I argued I liked the 14th, and I thought the best way to address her concerns was by us adopting better economic policies, notably fair trade and not free trade.

    I think the same is true here.  And I hate to say it, but apparently Arizona's tough new employer laws combined with the falling dollar has actually sent many folks back home.

    I am sympathetic to those that complain about barriers to refuge status, my parents in the early 20s, fleeing from Russia were kept in Juarez for over a year due to racist quotas on Jews.

    I am also sympathetic to studies that show that the illegal aliens are depressing wages for lower wage Americans as well as legal immigrants.  Yes, some of that is because they are easily exploited, but a lot of that is also because of the sheer numbers of laborers in the lower wages.

    I agree with much of your proposal but redirected towards legal immigrants.  

    I think the border fence should actually be stronger for basic humanitarian reasons: every year in Arizona about 200 people die in the desert trying to cross.  These people are innocent and do not deserve their fates but our open border is like a pool without a fence or a ladder on the side of a building.  (Sigh, way too early in the morning for me to be typing.)

    I think that unfair restrictions to immigration should be eliminated.  It should be easier to obtain political asylum.  Our trade policies should be improved and can both target increasing American wages as well as increasing foreign wages and working conditions.

    I don't think open borders are a wise or safe or even humane policy.

    We need to limit the "reuniting family" (none / 0) (#10)
    by lilybart on Sun Jan 13, 2008 at 08:07:49 AM EST
    It's fine for a man to come here,, get a job and bring wife and kids, but it too much for the whole extended family to get a pass too.

    There have to be some limits.

    6. There should be an end to (none / 0) (#13)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Sun Jan 13, 2008 at 08:24:40 PM EST
    6. There should be an end to unfair political asylum and deportation processes and other barriers to acquiring and maintaining permanent residency.
    Fine by me, as long as we agree the fair asylum and deportation processes and barriers should not be ended.

    If the border is not secured (none / 0) (#14)
    by katmandu on Mon Jan 14, 2008 at 01:00:28 AM EST
    all citizens must be taxed for the costs of
    illegal immigration.  It is unfair for the
    border states, and the small border reservations
    to be burdened with the high costs of illegal
    aliens.  The costs are in the billions.
    We have one small Indian Reservation on the
    border of Mexico near California that has a
    million dollars worth of rescue and body recovery
    each year.  It dang near bankrupts them.
    The environmental costs are heavy, you have to
    see the trash associated with crossing before
    you will believe it!
    Body recovery and id costs are enormous, as well
    as costs due to illegal immigrant's criminal
    acts.  The costs are high.
    There should be no reason a criminal here illegally  should remain here, yet they do.
    All criminal aliens should be deported.
    Securing the border should be the first act
    of immigration reform.
    Our citizens and legal residents should have
    preference when it comes to higher education.
    Too many legal students are struggling to afford
    a quality higher education, the state should
    spend tax dollars on the legal students whether
    they are native or immigrant.
    Your immigration bill of rights is fine for
    legal immigrants, but I don't believe the illegal
    alien should have the same rights. It's quite
    unfair for the people who follow the rules.