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Why immigration reform is so tricky

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Posted: Friday, April 12, 2013 10:28 am

Earlier this week, I was in Washington, D.C., for what most locals say is the year’s busiest period. The cherry blossoms were out and tourists from all corners came to see them. Coincidentally, two major bills are pending in Congress, comprehensive immigration reform and gun control. Lobbyists from near and far came to D.C. to make their voices heard.

On April 10, illegal immigrants and their supporters gathered on the Capitol lawn to demonstrate their support for legislation that would grant permanent residency and eventual citizenship to about 11 million aliens. Two bills, one in the Senate and another in the House, are anticipated soon even though there have already been several delays.

Although there are several hang ups, two issues command center stage. The first and most contentious concerns border security. What metrics will be used to measure its effectiveness and when will the so called “triggers” go into effect? That is, will the border have to be locked down before illegal immigrants receive legal status or will the promise to put effective controls in place sometime into the future be good enough? The Gang of Eight, the driving force behind the Senate bill, has two members at opposite ends of the security spectrum. Marco Rubio (R-FL) demands security in advance of amnesty; Chuck Schumer (D-NY) insists the legislation should go ahead without it.

The second controversy is whether illegal immigrants should receive instant or provisional permanent residency and how far down the line should they have to wait for citizenship. Some propose that the delay be as far out as 10 to 13 years.

While thousands showed up, the crowd was visibly smaller than in past years. For many, attendance was mandatory. Unions ordered their members to go, provided bus transportation, meals and lodging. Unions’ endorsement of illegal immigration is a departure from tradition, to say the least. In fact, unions backing amnesty legislation violates the traditions that Cesar Chavez established when he co-founded the National Farm Workers Association, later known as the United Farm Workers. Chavez knew that more illegal immigrant workers willing to accept lower wages hurt his union members. According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report, in March the economy created only 88,000 new jobs. Only 40 percent of working age African-Americans is fully employed. What America needs is more jobs, not more workers.

Even though the federal deficit topped $1 trillion for the fourth consecutive year and the White House proposes an unsustainable fiscal year 2014 $3.77 trillion budget, President Obama declared that passing amnesty legislation is his “number one priority.”

Everyone wants to know what’s next. As of today, the Senate plans to reveal its 1,500-page bill on Tuesday and then hold a single hearing the following day. No one on either side of the aisle can read 1,500 pages of dense congressional legislation overnight. The Senate’s heavy-handed effort to ram the bill through will raise the ire of the already incensed opposition which includes some Democrats.

Whatever the Senate bill’s final form may be, it will not have enough votes to pass. House legislation will be dead on arrival. On Capitol Hill, nothing is more toxic than immigration. Since the same vows were made and broken in 1986 during the Immigration Reform and Control Act, today’s promises about border and interior enforcement have no credibility.

Immigration works only if it’s managed gradually and thoughtfully. The ongoing, clandestine comprehensive immigration reform talks driven by special interest groups are a hodge-podge of random ideas slapped together without considering America’s best interests.

Joe Guzzardi retired from the Lodi Unified School District in 2008. He lives in Pittsburgh, PA. Contact Joe at guzzjoe@yahoo.com

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  • Andrew Liebich posted at 7:48 pm on Fri, Apr 12, 2013.

    Andrew Liebich Posts: 2999

    Just curious Ms. Bobin... Are you still sticking with, "entering the United States illegally is not illegal."

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 5:07 pm on Fri, Apr 12, 2013.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    This is the second time that Joe Guzzardi has written misleading information about Cesar Chavez. The first was in his column "The Stubborn Truth About Cesar Chavez" dated October 13, 2012 in which he accused President Obama of attending the dedication of the Cesar Chavez memorial in order to talk immigration and "woo" Latino voters.

    Thanks to the Internet, a transcript of Obama's speech at the dedication ceremony revealed that Obama said NOTHING, ZIP, ZERO, about immigration and solely praised Chavez for his dedication to farmworker's rights and in getting the UFW established.

    Speech transcript: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/10/08/1141743/-President-Obama-s-remarks-at-dedication-of-Cesar-Chavez-National-Monument

    Quote Guzzardi from his column:

    "Apparently, neither Obama nor his advisers have any concept of what Chavez's legacy is truly about. Chavez was not a champion for more immigration, or whatever other flowery language the president might use in an effort to establish a connection with Latinos."

    Again, transcript reveals Obama said NOTHING about immigration in his speech other than to mention the immigrant ancestors of those attending the dedication ceremony. And speaking of having no "concept" of Chavez's "legacy," Guzzardi even identifies Chavez's wife, Helen, as Chavez's "elderly grandmother."

    Guzzardi states, in this latest column, above, "Chavez knew that more illegal immigrant workers willing to accept lower wages hurt his union members."

    What he FAILS to tell you - as is his usual tactic in order to mislead, is the following:

    Chavez was anti-illegal immigration for the following reasons:

    - Illegal workers undermined his efforts to organize farm workers - workers on strike could easily be replaced by illegals.

    -Illegals COULD NOT protest their working conditions and the abuses farmers and ranchers heaped on them - for obvious reasons- they could easily be fired or replaced if they complained.

    -Chavez's focus was to form a union for agricultural workers - a goal that could not be accomplished if those efforts could easily be destroyed by farmers hiring "scabs" (illegals) who had less rights than the striking workers.

    Joe Guzzardi continues to hold up Cesar Chavez as being "anti-illegal immigration" by conveniently not revealing the TRUTH about Chavez's legacy.

    Cesar Chavez was REVILED for his efforts at organizing farmworkers. Ranchers and farmers alike hated the man. He was jailed during the lettuce boycott for not calling it off.

    I vividly recall, when I first arrived in California, passing by a small house in my friend's hometown, Hollister. There were many cars parked outside, but the windows were covered with black curtains. Curious, I asked my friend if he knew what that was all about.

    He explained that it was a meeting of farmworkers loyal to Chavez and the reason they had to meet in secret was that they would be arrested or persecuted by their employers if their identities were known.

    It is shameful that Guzzardi now holds up Chavez as an example of the evils of illegal immigration when Chavez himself suffered greatly at the hands of those who fought with every means possible to defeat his cause.

  • Eric Barrow posted at 3:07 pm on Fri, Apr 12, 2013.

    Eric Barrow Posts: 1714

    I knew Comprehensive Immigration Reform was gonna drive Joe crazy. Two Columns from Pittsburgh Joe this week way to go LNS. I hope Joe is right and the right attempts to kill immigration reform, midterm election have been tough for liberals lately but this immigration debate is sure to bring people out to the polls in 2014. At least the immigration debate distracts Joe from bashing his favorite small town in his favorite state. At some point the columns allowed by a publication define a publication.


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