Focus remains enforcement and deportation
© Attorney Farhad Sethna 2013
In previous articles at blog.immigration-america.com, I explored the Senate proposal for comprehensive immigration reform. In this article, I will discuss the House Republicans opposition to such reform as demonstrated by the introduction of two separate enforcement-only bills in the House.
While the US Senate has passed a far-reaching and comprehensive bill to attempt to legalize the status of the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in this country, the house Republicans are not as sympathetic. Republicans are the majority and therefore control the House. Any legislation that is signed by the President, must be passed both by the Senate, which is Democratic controlled, as well as the House, which is Republican controlled.
Therefore, the House Republicans essentially hold the key to successful passage of any immigration reform.
Rather that introduce a comprehensive immigration bill, the house Republicans have decided to focus on enforcement. Unfortunately, this is an old and tired argument of the Republican party. Remember, this is the same party which under President Ronald Regan, passed amnesty for over 3 million undocumented aliens in 1986. However, since then the Republican party under the control of its’ hard-line “Tea Party” members has become even more conservative.
The two bills the republicans have introduced in the House focus on increasing penalties for aliens convicted of crimes such as drunken driving, and for increased scrutiny and safeguards against foreign workers. Interestingly, the Republicans’ argument against guest workers – who they once championed – is that such guest workers would reduce the wages of U.S. workers. This is a very interesting argument given that Republicans do not want wages to be increased, and in fact are happy with reduced wages because that means greater profits for employers.
Rep. Goodlatte (Republican, Virginia) introduced the SAFE Act (Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act), which proposes to prosecute and jail every undocumented individual in the USA. Setting aside the cost to the country, imagine the incredible horror it would create for millions of families and US citizen children. The SAFE Act does not solve America’s immigration problems. By driving the undocumented even further into the shadows, the SAFE Act actually makes America UNsafe.
Similarly, the Agricultural Guest Worker Act (“AG-Act”) also introduced by Goodlatte, does nothing to change the landscape of the broken immigration system in the US. It applies to temporary H-2C workers who will enter the USA to work in agricultural, dairy, and other food processing industries. The AG Act bill actually reduces workers’ protection by exempting employers from compensating H-2C workers’ transportation expenses, not requiring employers to provide housing to H-2C workers, and requiring any H-2C workers to submit to binding arbitration and mediation against any employer rather than being able to litigate cases in a court of law. Further, H-2C workers are not eligible for legal assistance under the Legal Services Corporation Act. H-2C workers are therefore, “second class” of guest workers in the United States. How the H-2C program is supposed to remedy the problem of undocumented aliens in the USA, is of course unclear. All it does is reduce protection for workers in an industry which is already notorious for abuse and mistreatment of labor.
With all the hypocrisy that is prevailing in Washington these days, it is not surprising that the Republicans would deny passing comprehensive immigration reform. After all their agenda for the last 5 years has been to deny President Obama any kind of legislative victory. Even though the voters spoke loud and clear at the polls both in 2008 and again in 2012, Republicans refuse to do what is right for America.
What can we, as the voters do about this?
We can do a lot. Please visit blog.immigration-america.com for a sample letter. Find the address for your Senator and Representative. Copy and paste that letter into your word processor and modify it as you want. Explain your support for immigration reform and what it would mean for you and those you love. Ask that everybody be treated like human beings and value their lives. Ask them to remember that under the Constitution, all human beings are created equal. Even if you are still only a Legal permanent Resident, send a letter. Sooner than you think, you will be eligible for Citizenship. At that time, your voice WILL count. Our representatives and senators realize this. Mail your letters to your Senator and Representative. Don’t wait – please do this NOW!!
Immigration reform must have safeguards. But to start out with enforcement-only is neither sensible nor useful.
Copyright, Farhad Sethna, Attorney, 2013
About the author: Attorney Farhad Sethna has practiced law for over 20 years. Since 1996, he has been an adjunct professor of Immigration Law at the University of Akron, School of Law, in Akron, Ohio. His practice is limited to immigration and small business. With offices in Akron and Dover, Ohio, Attorney Sethna represents clients in all types of immigration cases. Our number is: (330)-384-8000. Please send your general immigration questions to AttorneySethna@immigration-america.com. We will try to answer as many questions as possible.
This is only general legal information. Please consult a qualified immigration attorney for advice on your specific case.