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Monday, May 8, 2006
International Family Migration and First Do No Harm
“The illegal immigration problem!” The Republicans effort to introduce an illegal immigration “reform,” bill (warning: when the republicans even speak the words “reform,” run for cover. It means they want to do something that they know the mainstream public would find reprehensible, if they found out the particulars!) became a rallying point for the sympathetic public that remains in existence in the United States. The bill seeks to criminalize, nay felony-ize, illegal immigrants.
Liberal democrats, like myself, saw this debate coming from years back. We knew the “cons,” would need another divisive issue to bring out the angry white men they rely on so heavily. Immigration was the festering blister ready to pop in our faces. It only needed labor related issues like a struggling economy, like outsourced jobs, like multinational corporations moving their operations to slave labor countries, and anguishing issues like the continued stagnant wage levels for nearly every category of the American work force. Stopping gay marriage just did not quite tip the scales enough in 2004, a three to five point margin is a scary one for the cons, even their placement of key states’ Secretaries of State in their pockets, along with voting machine contractors connected like mafia to political family members was not enough phony victory for them.
When the millions of immigrant supporters took to the streets and flooded their representatives with email and letters and phone calls, the message frightened the bajeezus out of the cons. Shock! There seemed to be a lot more of them than the angry white folks the cons thought they had in their pockets! Yikes, now the cons still had the angry white folks, many even angrier than before, but now the cons had millions of brown folks ready to tear them a new one.
Many cons still don’t get it. Its about not harming families for doing all they could to best survive in an economy in which real hunger looms on the other side of each sunset. Its about not criminalizing a families quest for sustenance, for hope, for a half descent future. Its a bureaucratic violation of documents to cross our borders unchecked without form 10Z1ABQ34-8 (example) but its not currently illegal. It is unethical, uncivil, some would say disrespectful of us born Americans to do so.
Fix the damn borders. Using every available technological doo-dad available to us. No harmful or wounding devices, no guns, no alligators or possessed dolls with evil intent. Work with the Mexican and Canadian authorities to accomplish the goal of complete containment. Address the border containment issue as a separate and first priority issue in congress. Ignoring all other noise until the border solution is settled.
I know it’s a tough request for a congress containing any number of conservatives, but the Oath of the great teacher Hippocrates, “First do no harm,” should be given to all members of the Congress (as if oaths are any more valuable than oats). It sounds so Liberal, so mushy mush, not at all like the veiled attempt at political correctness of the whimpering cry: “we’re compassionate conservatives!” Symbolic yes, but some people hold symbolism dearly, as if not honoring a symbol will cause God to strike them down with a bolt of lighting. Interesting note; the Capital Dome is indeed lightning proof!
Considering that solution one has been enacted for more than a couple of years, its now time to address the social and economic ramifications of Family Immigration. Allow any employer with available jobs to register with a central federal computer database. In doing so, that employer would be agreeing to “job adopting,” the eligible laborer, if that laborer were coming from across our borders, or across the oceans. The employer would also be agreeing to paying all employees, citizens or not, no less than %60 of federal Prevailing Wage in that region, this percentage would automatically increase as the years of the program proceed. On the other side of our border a jobless, or otherwise desperate person, willing to travel away from his or her family would access the same database. At his terminal he would be issued a ticket matching the employer and particular job in the States. At his emigration office he would receive legal papers and a work visa to exit his country and into the United States. His prospective employer stamps his visa on the day he begins work, this action certifies the workers’ visa card. This action makes him eligible to apply for a drivers’ license marked with a prominent “NC,” for non citizen, this prevents him from registering to vote, but this is his only restriction. He is allowed a checking or savings account without American established credit ratings. He may only use a checking debit/credit card at any retail establishment, discounting any need for him to have had credit ratings established. He will be sent a Medicare card as soon as his address is established. This employer would have immediately began paying into the Medicare program through the standard payroll tax known as F.I.C.A..
So imagine if you will, no immigrant crosses our border without already having a place to work. He may even have safe transportation. No job is taken from an American citizen as wages would be equivalent. This economic disincentive upon large employers, like the agribusinesses, will begin to reduce the inflow of immigrants, as those jobs are more in demand to citizens, and less available to immigrants. As the immigrant worker requires health care, its paid for, the cost is quantifiable, record able, reimbursable.
When more immigrant families are able to live in their home country, partly due to the open and legal crossing of their principle earner into the States, and partly due to the availability of housing paid for by their principle earner, then more children can stay in their home country, in their home with their mother, at attending their local school and speaking their own language. How much more pro family could an immigration policy get?
James G. Mason