Monday, February 27, 2006

Approaching Zero-Hour to McCain-a-Palooza

[bumped up for more exposure]

If you've been wondering why the focus around here has picked up regarding immigration reform, it's because the time has arrived for the Senate to initiate the long-awaited debate on the bi-partisan bill sponsored by Ted Kennedy and John McCain. I hope Teddy is vocal in the media, because McCain is going to milk this opportunity to set up his Presidential campaign for 2008. Trust me, he'll deny it to till he's blue in the face, but it's obvious.

It begins on Tuesday.
The Arizona Republican will headline a series of rallies organized by immigration advocates and immigrant-service groups beginning Thursday in Miami before moving on to New York and Los Angeles and possibly other cities. The goal: to push the Senate to approve his guest-worker proposal rather than the narrow approach focused on border security already passed by the House.

If Congress puts off immigration reform for another year, "quite frankly, it would be an abrogation of our duty," McCain said during a telephone news conference from Arizona, adding that he believes "the overwhelming majority of the American people support our proposal."
I haven't seen the poll numbers on the plan, so I can't verify the claim of support by McCain, but I do know that his counterpart here in Arizona, Jon Kyl, has co-sponsored a bill with John Cornyn (R-TX) with a more hard-lined stance that focuses on deportation and militarization of the border. If the Republican base is whipped into a frothy rage, the better bet is that they will support Kyl and Cornyn over the bi-partisan option.

So what are the details of Kennedy/McCain? Here is a snippet of the guest-worker portion that will cause the most outrage from the crazies, along with a link to a fuller look.
Title VII: Adjustment of Status for H-5B Non-Immigrants
  • Undocumented immigrants in the U.S. on date of introduction can register for a temporary visa (H-5B), valid for six years
  • Applicants have to show work history, clean criminal record, and that they are not a security problem to be eligible for a temporary visa
  • They will receive work and travel authorization
  • Their spouses and children are also eligible
  • In order to qualify for permanent status, workers will have to meet a future work requirement, clear additional security/background checks, pay substantial fines and application fees ($2000 or more per adult) as well as back taxes, and meet English/civics requirements
It is important to note that this issue has the potential to split the left end of the political spectrum. The labor unions are already in disagreement over how to deal with a guest worker program, while ensuring that wages and jobs are not hemorrhaged.

Eliseo Medina, who is the Vice-President of the Service Employees International Union supports the bi-partisan bill, but he is meeting resistance from other unions.
If such a plan is passed by Congress, it could result in the largest reshaping of immigration policy and the workplace in decades. The A.F.L.-C.I.O., which fiercely opposes the guest worker proposal, says it would result in the disappearance of thousands of permanent jobs and create an underclass of poorly paid foreign workers.


In decades past, labor unions have often viewed immigrants as the enemy, accusing them of depressing wages and breaking strikes. That view has changed as the number of immigrants in the work force has surged. In 2000, the A.F.L.-C.I.O. reversed course and called for the legalization of illegal immigrants and an end to most sanctions against employers who hire them.

But the question of a temporary guest worker plan remains thorny.

linkage (free registration required)
Regardless of where you stand on immigration reform, it's important to start beefing up on the details of the competing Senate measures that will do battle in the committees and the floor. To this day, Duke1676 has provided for me the clearest breakdown of camps: Open Border advocates, Economic Development advocates and Closed Border advocates, details can be found here on the delineation.

I am obviously in the Open Borders camp because a) this country has always been a nation of immigrants, b) I'm sick of hearing racist wingnuts like Rush Limbaugh, Lou Dobbs, Tom Tancredo and Russell Pearce demonize my people, c) I'm practical enough to recognize that our country would shut down without immigrant labor and d) there's no way they are going to round-up all of the current immigrants and ship them off to the various corners of the world.

It's time, my friends. This legislation has a chance at causing a major shift in the political, economic, and ethnic winds of the United States.

Crossposted at Migra Matters

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