DREAM Act, Guest Worker Program, Immigration, News, Politics

Editorial: Obama’s Immigration Talk Lacks Crucial Element — Action

From DallasNews.com, 11 May 2011.

We’ve heard the right words before from leading Republicans as well as Democrats, including presidents from both parties: Congress must stop delaying and enact comprehensive immigration reform. And yet these tough-talking politicians predictably lose their intestinal fortitude as each new election cycle looms. Political expediency takes over, and other pressing business provides a convenient distraction.

It’s against that backdrop that this newspaper greeted President Barack Obama’s speech Tuesday in El Paso with a big dose of skepticism. The words sounded right, but we’ve heard this before from him, particularly when he was currying the Hispanic vote during his 2008 campaign.

It’s now 2011, with his re-election campaign looming, and suddenly comprehensive immigration reform is a front-burner issue again. Mere coincidence?

If Obama means what he says, he must begin marshaling the bipartisan support necessary in Congress to make immigration reform a reality. There may never be a better time.

Both parties recognize that the 2012 elections could pivot on the Hispanic vote.

Both also have well-organized pressure groups that want to see immigration reform passed. Republicans in the business community — restaurant chain owners, construction companies and other employers in labor-intensive industries — are clamoring for legal ways to employ low-cost migrant workers.

Like Obama — and President George W. Bush before him — this newspaper agrees that employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants should be held accountable and be punished. Any reform measure must include tough requirements to ensure that illegal immigrants are up to date on their taxes, pay fines for having violated the law and get in line to immigrate legally.

We also agree that significant reforms are needed to make it easier for those who have immigrated legally to stay legal, especially when they’re highly skilled migrants helping keep the nation’s high-technology firms internationally competitive.

Farms and other temporary employers need a guest-worker system that gives them easier and more predictable access to low-cost migrant labor.

And the DREAM Act should accompany this reform package to make it easier for the children of longtime-resident illegal immigrants to stay, study, work and serve in what, for many of them, is the only home they’ve known.

Yes, border security is an ongoing concern and should continue to be addressed as a top priority. But the border-security issue must not continue to be the excuse for congressional inaction on the bigger package of reforms. Both issues can and should be addressed simultaneously.

Our gut reaction is that Obama’s renewed enthusiasm for immigration reform is an early attempt to create a wedge issue and mobilize Hispanic voters toward his camp. But it’ll take much more than words to make comprehensive reform a reality. So, enthusiastic as we are about the concept, skeptics we remain.

———————————-

WHAT THIS NEWSPAPER SEEKS

— Tough penalties for businesses that employ illegal immigrants

— A flexible temporary worker program that admits laborers based on employers’ needs

— Expanded use of supplemental law enforcement options such as the Criminal Alien Program for immigrants who don’t comply

— A requirement that illegal immigrants pay back taxes, learn English and pay fines or perform national service to qualify for legalization

Source: DallasNews.com, “Editorial: Obama’s immigration talk lacks crucial element — action” 11 May 2011.

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Discussion

2 thoughts on “Editorial: Obama’s Immigration Talk Lacks Crucial Element — Action

  1. your editorial demonizes businesses that require manual labor. These businesses were for the most part started when there was still a workforce available and willing to provide the labor for these physically demanding jobs. If it were not for hispanics and others to do this work many businesses would shut down eliminating entire local economies which provide 10 skilled jobs for every 1 unskilled (mechanics, welders, parts suppliers, local merchants, etc.).

    Most employers who require labor pay significantly more than the minimum wage. Our community chicken processing, farmers, quarries pay on average $9/hr starting up to $25/hr. I don’t think you can argue that most employers take advantage of migrants. Even at wages over $15/hr for unskilled work it is still extremely difficult to find help.

    Posted by Dennis | 12 May 2011, 12:59 pm
    • Articles and editorials that are posted on the Forum originate from other sources. I try to provide a venue for a variety of opinions. I do think you have valid points and I thank you for your comments!

      Craig Smith
      Editor, Farmworkers Forum

      Posted by Farmworkers Forum | 13 May 2011, 10:59 pm

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