Bush Immigration "Reform"
The International Institute of Boston lauds President Bush for addressing the need for immigration reform, but questions the proposed strategy.
(PRWEB) January 10, 2004
The International Institute of Boston (IIB) supports President BushÂs initiative for addressing the substantial issues and needs of the 10 million undocumented workers in the United States. With the growing impact of Latino voters and the dependency of the economy on immigrant labor, efforts to address the human needs and legalization of millions of residents in the US is good policy and politics.
The President recognizes that 14% of the US labor force is foreign-born and deserves fair and just treatment. He states the strength of America lies in the fact that Âover the generations, we have received energetic, ambitious, optimistic people from every part of the world. By tradition and conviction, our country is a welcoming society.Â
IIB expresses concern, however, over the announcementÂs broader implications. The President is calling for a vastly enlarged legal guest worker program. By definition this is not immigration. It is similar to the Âno immigrationÂ policies of post-war Germany, though this clearly affects only one segment of the US population. In his plan, foreign workers would be accepted if they are registered and do not want to stay. They are given no incentive to integrate or invest, but rather they are given incentives to leave.
IIB President Dr. Westy A. Egmont responded to the White House announcement: ÂWith a country of nearly 10% foreign-born and borders that handle 500 million crossings a year, America is an open society, rich in its varied roots and dependent on the contributions of all regardless of race, religion or national origin. We need substantive immigration reform that addresses the enormous backlog of family reunification and green card applications and enables families to travel. We need to address the right of foreign-born students to continue their education after high school and for workers to drive legally and gain access to their social security payments. We need policies that allow individuals to become legal permanent residents rather than second class guest workers. We need civil liberties protection for those who register and for employers who hire. We need border procedures that Americans would tolerate if they were subjected to the same and we need the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Service to have adequate funding to process the current work, let alone 10 million new applications.Â
As a provider of services to immigrants, IIB notes that over 80% of arriving immigrants have the full benefit of law. We are concerned for those outside the pattern of legal immigration and call on the government not to use registration as means of identifying employers and employees and then using that information to the harm of any party.
The President also spoke of raising the bar for citizenship. The United States has a solid historical development of appropriate standards and tests. We need to value the lessons of history, maintain reasonable standards and even expand the waivers for those impacted by age or disabilities. The naturalization rate in the US is falling significantly and as part of the action of this administration, effort needs to be made to assist immigrants to become citizens rather than convey a Âwork cheap and go backÂ philosophy.
For millions of workers there is currently no means of becoming legal permanent residents of their adopted country. In response to yesterdayÂs announcement by the President, there is a glimmer of hope that they can come out of the shadows and work safely and securely. Congress will determine how these presidential ideas can become law and there are many who are cheering for any opportunity to pursue life, liberty and happiness in the United States.
IIB is a leading multicultural provider of comprehensive professional and cultural services that foster the success of immigrants and refugees in the United States. Fundamental to all of the InstituteÂs programs and services is the promotion of self-sufficiency Â giving clients the tools to help themselves become active participants in the social, political and economic richness of American life. The Institute provides newcomers with direct, practical assistance in the form of English and literacy classes, refugee resettlement services, citizenship education, economic development assistance, job counseling and placement, legal aid, and social services, including crisis intervention, casework, and mental health counseling. Founded in 1924, the Institute has assisted many thousands of people from more than 100 countries. This past year alone, nearly 10,000 people from over 75 lands have received services through the Institute's three sites in Manchester NH, Lowell MA and Boston MA.