Monday, August 11, 2008

Democratic Platform Immigration Plank: The good, the bad, and the ugly

From the Democratic Platform Committee comes a draft of what will be Obama's immigration plank.

As expected, it's a mix of both good and bad.

On the good side there is a commitment to take up comprehensive reform within the first year, a plan to regularize the status of the 12mil undocumented migrants already living in the US, an acknowledgment that conditions in sender nations that foster increased migration must be dealt with, a reaffirmation of the commitment to the principles of family based immigration, an increase in the number of available visas, and a call to fix the dysfunctional immigration bureaucracy.

On the bad side, the platform is still mired down in the language of enforcement and criminalization that marked previous failed efforts at reform.

Calls for increased border enforcement and security as a means to regulate migration, and promises of getting tough on those who "disrespect the law", while perhaps smart political theater, are not constructive ways to address a broken immigration system, and only add to the divisive and dehumanizing nature of the debate.

While mentioning the devastating effects of "raids that are ineffective, tear apart families and leave people detained without adequate access to counsel", the platform falls short of actually denouncing those raids and either calling for their end, or at the least, requiring a moratorium on them until reform is taken up and passed.

Additionally, with the fingerprints of centrist pollsters and spinmeisters all over it, it's notable to see the language shift from one of providing undocumented migrants the "opportunity" to become full members of society, (as has always been the verbiage) … to "require(ing) them to come out of the shadows and get right with the law" …this is no small difference.

While meaning essentially the same thing as a matter of policy, to require one to get "right with the law" implies an inherent criminality….and illegality …again fueling the same dehumanizing frames that have led to increased violence and hatred directed at immigrant populations.

Lastly, there are the labor aspects of this platform. While claiming to take a tough stance against those employers who exploit undocumented workers, the platform falls somewhat short of guaranteeing real protections for both native and immigrant laborers. It specifically targets those employers who fail to pay minimum wage…but makes no mention of a living, or prevailing wage.

This is an important distinction …to allow employers to pay immigrant workers a minimum wage, when it is far bellow the prevailing standards, is no less exploitive or destructive than failing to pay minimum wages for those jobs that warrant it.

While this platform is a decent starting point from which to proceed forward…it leaves too much to be desired as a declaration of leadership on this issue.

..but we are yet to see how the Republican's cobble together an immigration plank that satisfies it's anti-immigrant base while still allowing their standard-bearer a modicum of self-respect and credibility. …it should be quite a trick

text of immigration plank after the fold


America has always been a nation of immigrants. Over the years, millions of people have come here in the hope that in America, you can make it if you try. Each successive wave of immigrants has contributed to our country's rich culture, economy and spirit. Like the immigrants that came before them, today's immigrants will shape their own destinies and enrich our country.

Nonetheless, our current immigration system has been broken for far too long. We need comprehensive immigration reform, not just piecemeal efforts. We must work together to pass immigration reform in a way that unites this country, not in a way that divides us by playing on our worst instincts and fears.

We are committed to pursuing tough, practical, and humane immigration reform immigration reform in the first year of the next administration.

For the millions living here illegally but otherwise playing by the rules, we must require them to come out of the shadows and get right with the law. We support a system that requires undocumented immigrants who are in good standing to pay a fine, pay taxes, learn English, and go to the back of the line for the opportunity to become citizens. They are our neighbors, and we can help them become full tax paying, law-abiding, productive members of society.

At the same time, we cannot continue to allow people to enter the United States undetected, undocumented, and unchecked. The American people are a welcoming and generous people, but those who enter our country's borders illegally, and those who employ them, disrespect the rule of the law.

We need to secure our borders, and support additional personnel, infrastructure and technology on the border and at our ports of entry.

We need additional Customs and Border Protection agents equipped with better technology and real-time intelligence.

We need to dismantle human smuggling organizations, combating the crime associated with this trade.

We also need to do more to promote economic development in migrant-sending nations, to reduce incentives to come to the United States illegally.

And we need to crack down on employers who hire undocumented immigrants, especially those who pay their workers less than the minimum wage.

It's a problem when we only enforce our laws against the immigrants themselves, with raids that are ineffective, tear apart families and leave people detained without adequate access to counsel.

We realize that employers need a method to verify whether their employees are legally eligible to work in the U.S., and will ensure that our system is accurate, fair to legal workers, safeguards people's privacy, and cannot be used to discriminate against workers.

We must also improve the legal immigration system, and make our nation's naturalization process fair and accessible to the thousands of legal permanent residents who are eager to become full Americans.

We should fix the dysfunctional immigration bureaucracy that hampers family reunification, the cornerstone of our immigration policy for years.

Given the importance of both keeping families together and supporting American businesses, we will increase the number of immigration visas for family members of people living here and for immigrants who meet the demand for jobs that employers cannot fill, as long as appropriate labor market protections and standards are in place.

We will fight discrimination against Americans who have always played by our immigration rules but are sometimes treated as if they had not.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This column best makes the case against Mitt Romney for McCain's VP . People following the immigration debate should read it. 22038/why-mccain-should-not-pick-romney-for-vice- president-guest-voice/