Migration to America started with the industrial revolution when it has opened its doors to workers where they worked in factories, in railroads, and other jobs in the new industries that have been created in the 19th century. Migration did not stop there, as foreign workers; both legal and illegal came to America for various reasons, such that America became a host of different cultures that have mixed with Americans. The migration of workers and job creation have made America a stronger nation (Pola and Kropf). However, immigrants had also created a problem for the government, as their number increased, many immigrants could not be identified, and most of them have been classified as illegal immigrants. To address this problem, a proposal of granting temporary workers status has been proposed by the government. The question of the impact of granting temporary workers visas to illegal immigrants would be on business, the economy, and who need their services, would be discussed in this study to give us an insight into the real problem of illegal immigrants.
The continuous influx of immigrants was resented by some political groups because they feared that immigrants would take away their jobs from them. Some political groups advocated anti-immigrant sentiments suggesting a period of 21 years before an immigrant could become a naturalized citizen. However, this did not stop foreign workers from immigrating to America, which included Europeans and Asians. Moreover, workers from these countries filled the gap of employment which the native Americans could not provide (Pola and Kroph).
Status of immigrants
Reports about immigration, both legal and illegal, showed continuous arrival to the United States. The estimate of the Bureau of Census as of March 2003, shows a figure of 33.5 million foreign-born immigrants, while that of the total US population is 300 million, thus foreign-born immigrants account for 11% of the total US.population (US Census Bureau). In the year 2006, Homeland Security reports a total of 1,266,264 persons were granted legal permanent residence in the United States (Jeffrey). Records of illegal immigrants are provided by Olemacher’s report, which has put an estimate of illegal immigrants to be close to 12 million, further providing a ratio of one to every 20 workers (Ohlemacher). Based on these estimates, it could be concluded that the efforts of the government to discourage illegal immigration is not sufficient, and added efforts must be done to this.
Implications of the proposed immigration reform to illegal immigrant workers and to the government.
President Bush must have been alarmed with the increasing number of illegal immigrants, such that he made initiatives for immigration reforms for a temporary workers visa. A temporary workers permit is a proposal to reform the immigration law allowing an illegal immigrant who is presently staying in the United States and is currently holding a job to stay in the US for a period of three years, renewable for another term but subject to revoke if the worker breaks a law, or if found unemployed and would be subject to deportation. Both the government and the illegal workers will benefit from this act as explained by the President. The foremost beneficiaries of this act are about 12 million illegal immigrants now staying in the US. These are unidentified workers who, upon arriving in the US, work in agricultural fields, become a construction worker, assumes job as helpers, cleaners and food handlers, and hold jobs that otherwise American citizens normally do not accept (King, Bennett, and John).
Assuming that this law is passed, a foreign worker will receive several privileges stated in its provisions. First, he receives a green card giving the foreign worker the privilege to live and work in the United States. An addendum to this is the instruction of Pres. Bush to the Congress to raise the number of green cards issued to immigrants, which of the latest count are only 140,000. No date has been mentioned, and the number of cards to be raised was not indicated in his pronouncements (King, Bennett, and John).
Second, the foreign worker is assured of labor protection, such that he can now change jobs, and has equal rights to labor; he has the opportunity to earn wages and enjoy the same amenities as anybody else, This means he will no longer be prejudiced by his status in applying for a job which he is qualified. Third, is the worker’s right to travel is now recognized, in which he can now go home to his/her native country, and is allowed to return to the US without question. This would also stop the exploitation and abuses of employers who take advantage of the status of illegal workers (King, Bennett, and John).
Being armed with a permit, the foreign worker will no longer fear the report of deportation as they are now authorized to stay, and maintains peace of mind while working. And lastly, this immigration reform offers an expanded working opportunity to workers outside the US as long as there is a US company needing its expertise, but this privilege expires when the contract of work is finished (King, Bennett, and John).
Advantages to the government come first, in the presence of a reliable workforce that would be needed by the labor sector in keeping the business economy. This would respond to the job requirement of businesses in the country. Second, is homeland security which is foremost in the agenda of the President. This proposal would mean that there will be better monitoring of movements of foreigners coming into the country as all unidentified foreigners will now be listed. Hence, security efforts would be more concentrated on criminal elements and terrorists who are the real enemies of the states
When this law is enacted, there will be no more amnesty to illegal immigrants, as it would mean a discouragement of breaking the US law, and as such, immigrant privileges could not be granted to lawbreakers, the President had emphasized (King, Bennett & John).
Contradiction and endorsements of the Bush’s plan.
Political considerations may be seen as one of the reasons for rejection of the immigration reform submitted by President Bush to Congress, as Congress favored the bill tracking down illegal immigrants instead. The hopes for its enactment are pinned on Arien Specter of the Republican of Pennsylvania and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who promised to discuss the merits of both bills, the security measures, and immigration reform which was expected to be finished within the month. but the month he is referring to is last year, 2006 (Olemacherl).
Following the development on its passage, Rowland Nethaway, senior editor of the Naco Tribune-Herald, reported same time of one month which this immigration bill is supposed to be acted upon by the Senate, but the month he mentioned is February 2006 which is already over a year ago. This inaction has been criticized by the same editor, who commented that the situation needs action from the State due to the failure of Congress to enact the necessary rules for amendment of immigration laws. He recalled that according to an issue of” USA Today which came out on January 25, 2006, the turn out of laws reviewed by the State legislatures is rather low because out of 300 proposed bills, only 40 were acted upon. And as a consequence, Nethaway said that illegal immigrants found in New Hampshire were arrested by law enforcers and were charged with trespassing. He joined Pres. Bush’s opinion that American business and the U.S. economy need these foreign workers. He also believed the truth of what Bush had claimed that many available jobs in the US could not be filled by the native Americans, which could be gladly filled in by foreign workers. He concludes that Bush’s initiative is a good start, and hopes reforms in immigration laws could be enforced (Nethaway).
Many sectoral groups have endorsed the immigration reform. One of these endorsements came from the American Bar Association which came out with a policy of supporting legal immigration based on the expertise, skills, and family reunification, subject to the usual immigration procedures. It also conforms to granting of privileges to immigrants such s improved wages, better working conditions, and legality of the status of farmworkers (Hawkins and Anderson).
The strength of the discussion on the part of the House, among others citing it as a political move, is the effect of the proposal on the budget. The national budget, according to the Congressional Budget Office, CBO, would be increased by $13 billion during the period 2007-2011 and by 2007-2016; the increase would be reaching $54 billion. The CBO estimated an increase in the burden of the state of about $30 million to $85 million when the bill takes effect in its first year. CBO likewise noted that there would also be costs to the private sector for activities surrounding the verification of employment eligibility to an amount of $126 million for the first five years; and lastly, CBO estimated an increase in population due to immigration of about 8 million population by 2018 (Congressional Budget Office).
Immigration law is a political issue on a national scale, as this involves millions of illegal immigrants who hope for the legality of their stay in the US. These workers have stayed underground, and have no security of employment, and lives in fear of deportation. The state and business sectors have recognized their importance to labor, but adoption of laws legalizing their status has been slow in implementation Meantime, these workers are in constant subject to exploitation and abuse of employers, taking advantage of their predicament, such that these workers are forced to accept low wages, long hours of work in order to survive. This situation really needs the attention of the government as Pres. Bush has stated that the US welcomes guest workers to provide labor sources.
- Congressional Budget Office. “CBO Estimates Costs and Effects of Immigration Reform Bill”. Web.
- Hawkins, William and Erin Anderson. “Supports expanded rights for illegal aliens”. 2004. American Bar Association and Commission on immigration, Policy, Practice and Pro Bono.
- Kelly, Jeffrey. “Data on legal permanent residents”. 2007. Immigration Statistics, Homeland Security.
- King, John, Tedd Bennett and Steve King John. “Bush calls for changes on illegal workers. 2004. Cnn.Com.
- Netthaway, Rowland. “Unenforced Immigration Laws”. 2006. Cox News Service.
- Ohlemacher, Stephen. “Study: Up to 12m illegal migrants in US” 2006. Boston.com.News.
- Pola, Apolonia Rebisj and Andrew Koff. “Immigration and Industrialization in the 19th century” Angel fire. 2007. Web.
- US Census Bureau. “Immigration Data”. 2007.