All this is for a bill that will most likely face deadening opposition from the House. For the record, the Senate vote went as follows. Voting in favor of the bill were 23 Republicans, 38 Democrats, and 1 Independent, while 32 Republicans and 4 Democrats voted against it.
Get ready for the real battle. It will not take place on the border, but rather in the halls of Congress.
Any undocumented people who have been convicted of a felony or three misdemeanors would be deported regardless of their time in the United States.
Critics of the bill have been quick to point out the obvious difficulties it presents. How will the government round up over 2 million newly categorized illegal immigrants and deport them?
What type of additional government workers or agencies will be necessary to do this? Where is the funding coming from for such an undertaking? Who will test the level of English of these new citizens? What level of English skill is acceptable?
Of course, if we implemented H.R. 4437, which was passed by the House back in December of 2005, we would have to round up everyone without documentation and deport them all. (Let's just make sure we build the wall before they are deported, as this mass deportation might just affect the construction industry labor force.)
President Bush has recently been more front and center on this issue, but this legislative battle will most likely end in a stalemate. It is highly unlikely anything of substance will be done before the November midterm elections, as no one really knows what the upside or downside to this volatile issue is. When an issue is this emotionally charged, people's views can change quickly, and this frightens many vote-conscious politicians.
After these initial procedures, the government can slowly but surely secure the borders and make sure that all people in the country are properly accounted for and have proper documentation. If done correctly, this could be accomplished completely within three to five years.
This is the most workable approach of all because it is chronologically reasonable and, most importantly, it is manageable. I have no doubt that this industry would be more than happy to cooperate in a reasonable approach like the one I have outlined above.
We cannot pretend to fix a long-term problem, that has been escalating for years, in one fell swoop by passing legislation that has no chance of being properly enforced due to the lack of financial and human resources. This is both unrealistic, and in my opinion, inhumane.
It is doubtful something significant will pass in the near future. Politicians are framing the matter primarily for their constituents at this point in time.
There is no need for any knee-jerk reactions. If you presently employ Latino workers or have Latino supervisors, my advice is to sit tight and not do anything until the government issues some directives.
There is no way for you to know whose status is actually legal or not without checking the validity of their social security numbers, and in some cases this is illegal to do and is considered discriminatory. The last thing you need is a lawsuit filed against you and your company.
If you are presently hiring or preparing to hire Latino people in your organization, hire people who were born in the United States. The vast majority of Latinos in this country are legal citizens. The consensus on this issue is that anywhere from 65-70 percent of all Latinos in the United States have legal status to work.
Consider bringing people into your organization via a work visa. Hire people who have some basic English skills. If they do not, this could put them at risk for a permanent deportation when legislation finally does pass both chambers of Congress. You certainly would want employees who have been here at least two years.
Let's face it - we can no longer take the security, drug, or crime risks of allowing such a free flow of people crossing our borders. I believe this with all my heart.
On the other hand, we are not an inhumane, uncompassionate people who should entertain the thought of uprooting thousands and thousands of people who have raised their families and staked their futures in this great country, whether they came here legally or not. These people have children who were born here, are part of our school systems, and are honestly an integral part of the future development and growth of this country. We should not deport this important part of our future.
Let's seek workable and reasonable solutions.
Let all of us accept our due responsibility honestly. We all carry responsibility for what has happened in our country and our communities. We also have a responsibility to ensure a safe and prosperous future for our country. In the United States, we do this through community involvement, political involvement and through the use of free speech.
I trust that our involvement and our speech will be geared towards real solutions, not pious or emotionally charged rhetoric which has no substance or standing in reality and ignores the tradition of this great country as it relates to the immigrant population.
Ricardo González is the founder and CEO of Bilingual America. He can be reached at 863-427-3306 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Publication date: 07/10/2006