90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Immigration Reform: Legal Status Vs. Citizenship

Brian Rossell, and his daughter Kelly Rossell, 11, both from Sonsonate, El Salvador, hold up placards as they join immigration supporters during a rally for citizenship on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 10, 2013. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

Brian Rossell and his daughter Kelly Rossell, 11, both from Sonsonate, El Salvador, hold up placards as they join immigration supporters during a rally for citizenship on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 10, 2013. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

Will this be the year that immigration reform passes in Congress? Republicans eager to attract Latino voters are floating a plan this week to provide a path to legalization — but not full citizenship — for millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

But Democrats might balk at what they call second-class citizenship for some immigrants. Two activists with differing views on how to achieve immigration reform joined Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson.

Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, defends the Republican plan.

“Look, politics is the art of the possible,” Aguilar said. “There are many Republicans that feel that you’re being unfair for those who are waiting outside of the country to get their immigrant visa and enter the country legally, to guarantee a path to citizenship for people who violated the law. And I appreciate that point of view. So we have an opportunity right now to bring 11 million people or more out of the shadows, which is what the majority of Hispanics care about.”

But Otoniel “Tony” Navarrete of Promise Arizona worries that granting legal status without a path to citizenship would create a group of second-class citizens.

“To put into law a policy that creates a two-tiered system, that does scare me,” Navarrete said. “We’ve never done that as a country — to completely ban any type of citizenship. So if the proposal does not ban a pathway to citizenship, then I think that’s a good start for us to begin having a conversation.”

Guest

Transcript

JEREMY HOBSON, HOST:

It's HERE AND NOW, and on the heels of President Obama's renewed call for immigration reform last night, Republicans holding their annual retreat today are expected to talk about their own plans, which are said to include a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants in the U.S., but not a path to full citizenship.

Joining us now to talk about immigration are two people with different views about what should happen when it comes to reform. Alfonso Aguilar ran the Office for Citizenship in the George W. Bush administration. He's now the head of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles. Mr. Aguilar, welcome.

ALFONSO AGUILAR: Thank you for having me.

HOBSON: And Tony Navarrete is an immigration activist with the group Promise Arizona. He's with us from Phoenix. Hi Tony.

OTONIEL NAVARRETE: Hello.

HOBSON: So tell me first, Mr. Aguilar, let me go to you. What did you hear last night? Did you hear between what President Obama and then Cathy McMorris Rodgers said, some kind of a way forward on immigration reform? And what is it?

AGUILAR: Yes, indeed. I mean, I thought the speech in general from the president was very confrontational, but the only issue where he was not confrontational was immigration. And that's good. He didn't speak for a long time about immigration, but that's good. You know, he right now is very toxic on Capitol Hill. So the less he says, the better for immigration reform.

I think in terms of the House leadership, they're committed to getting something done. I think it's going to be done in a piecemeal basis, procedurally. It doesn't mean that it's not going to be comprehensive in the sense that it's going to be separate bills, but they're going to address all the different aspects of the immigration dilemma.

I think the only thing, and this may be the big difference, is that for the majority of undocumented, Republicans are not offering a special, guaranteed path to citizenship. They're not closing the door to citizenship, but they're saying we'll legalize you, but if you want to become a citizen, you would have to follow the process in current law. That is the only difference.

HOBSON: Well why is that? Because that is a part of the Senate bill, it would offer a path to citizenship. Why, Alfonso, are Republicans and it sounds like you not interested in that pathway to citizenship?

AGUILAR: Well, you know, the question is not a path to citizenship. The question is a special path to citizenship. Look, politics is the art of the possible. There are many Republicans that feel that you being unfair for those who are waiting outside of the country to get their immigrant visa and enter the country legally, to guarantee a path to citizenship for people who violated the law. And I appreciate that point of view.

So we have an opportunity right now to bring 11 million people or more out of the shadows, which is what the majority of Hispanics care about. Give them a path to legal status. Republicans are saying for the DREAMers, for those who entered illegally when they were minors, for those let's give them a guaranteed special path to citizenship. But for the rest, let's keep the door of citizenship open, but let's not provide them a special path.

And a recent study shows that under the Republican proposal, up to 6.5 million of those who legalize would have access to citizenship.

HOBSON: Which is not as many as under the Democratic proposal, obviously. But Tony Navarette, what do you think about that, about the difference between a path to citizenship and a path to legal status?

NAVARRETE: Well once again I think the reality is that we still have not seen an actual bill, an actual proposal that actually details exactly what that looks like. And in terms of the Senate bill, in terms of when we're talking about special path to citizenship, I think that special path really only applies to the DREAMers. You know, it applies to some of the farm workers.

But I don't think anyone is trying to find a special path. That's such a toxic word to use. And the fact that you have bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate, you know, where you had a good amount of Republicans sign on to this bill, you know, really shows that there is some leadership there.

And I think what the American people really want to see is leadership really come out of the House Republicans, so that we can actually have a bill that highlights exactly how we're going to take care of the situation (unintelligible)...

HOBSON: But it doesn't look like that Senate bill is going to pass through the House, and so I'm wondering would you rather have a path to legalization, a path to legal status, which the House Republicans, you know, they're meeting right now to talk about this, but it looks like that's probably what they're going to propose. Would you rather have that or just the current system if it comes down to it?

NAVARRETE: Well, of course if it comes down to it, you know, I do want to make sure that the 11 million are being recognized here in the United States so that they don't have to worry about, like Mr. Aguilar said, living in the shadows. But when you have such a small percentage of naysayers out there who are saying no, no, no, no, no, it really begins to affect a lot of the middle-ground politicians, who do feel that there is a need for citizenship.

And, you know, I don't want us to forget the fact that, you know, the majority of Americans, poll after poll, bipartisan polls, too, Republican polls, Democratic polls all have shown a significant amount of support for citizenship. So the fact that, you know, our elected officials are not giving the American people what they want really begins to challenge a lot of voters because the Latino support for the Republican Party has just plummeted.

HOBSON: Well, Alfonso Aguilar, let me bring you in there because he did bring up the point there that a lot of the reason why we're even having this conversation is because after the last election, many analysts on the Republican side of the aisle said the Republicans have got to embrace this issue and really pass reform because they're losing the Latino vote.

AGUILAR: Well, I think they are embracing it. Look, the majority of Latinos, including myself, want to see a path to citizenship. But for the majority, the most important thing is to come out of the shadows. And I think it would be very cynical if Democrats and President Obama try to kill a legalization bill because it doesn't have a special path to citizenship.

HOBSON: Tony, do you think there is going to be a bill that gets passed this year?

NAVARRETE: I definitely hope so. Like I said, the fact that the GOP is developing this set of principles is very encouraging, and I think it speaks to the issue that we still need to solve. To put into law a policy that creates a two-tiered system, that does scare me because I don't think - we've never done that as a country to completely ban any type of citizenship.

So if the proposal does not ban a pathway to citizenship, then I think that is - that's a good start for us to begin having a conversation.

HOBSON: Alfonso, your thoughts on that?

AGUILAR: Well, then, we're in agreement. But I just want to make sure that nobody is saying that we're going to take the option of citizenship for those who legalize. What Republicans are saying is no special path. So you're here in the country, you legalized, you attained legal status. If you want to become a citizen, then you would have to look at the avenues that the law offers to become a permanent resident and eventually a citizen.

HOBSON: Alfonso, just before we go, I want to ask your reaction to what Bill Crystal(ph), the conservative commentator, said this week, which was that the Republicans shouldn't do anything on this issue because it's politically not good for them in a year when people are focused on the problems with the health care law before the election.

AGUILAR: That is ridiculous. We've had community meetings and town halls with members of Congress. And we haven't seen hundreds or thousands of conservatives rushing to them to complain to members of Congress over immigration as it happened with Obamacare. Our base supports immigration reform. This is politically a winning issue for us.

It allows us to make inroads with Latinos, and we will become competitive again with the Latino vote.

HOBSON: Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles. And we've been also talking with Tony Navarrete, an immigration activist with the group Promise Arizona. Thanks to both of you for joining us.

AGUILAR: Thank you.

NAVARRETE: Wonderful, thank you.

HOBSON: You can go to hereandnow.org to let us know your thoughts on this issue. Should there be a path to citizenship for people who are here illegally, or should it be just a path to legal status or neither? Let us know, hereandnow.org. This is HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Anita Paul

    Yeah a special pass to citizenship. Because they are really like us so that can be REAL CITIZENSHIP. Also not all undocument imigrants are all Spanish.

  • vocamedia

    When you talk about paths to citizenship, could you please fill us in on what the currently available path(s) involves? Most of us are clueless.
    Let’s stop speaking in code. Path to “citizenship” really means access to the ballot box. As far as I’m concerned, the more the merrier.

    • hacimo

      The idea of a “citizen” comes from Roman law and refers to someone who pays taxes to support the government and who stands ready to serve in the military reserves when called for duty. A US citizen must also serve on a jury if called. You must be a citizen to serve as a civil servant a law officer or to run for public office. You must be a citizen in order to vote. Currently to become a US citizen, you must first be admitted as an immigrant and live and work in the united states for 5 years while holding a green card. During that time you must support yourself and stay off welfare, pay taxes and stay out of trouble with the law. You must then demonstrate a knowledge of english, and pass a test demonstrating knowledge of american history and civics. Finally you must swear an oath of loyalty to the united states. This is the usual “path to citizenship”.

      • vocamedia

        Thank you very much for the info. (Most of the native-born working class people I know couldn’t meet all of those requirements) Is there a fast-track for immigrants who serve in the Armed Forces?

        • hacimo

          no.

    • JinurfaceL

      Hey vocamedia, you are right!! Most people know nothing about how our system works… First , hacimo is right… But, that process is ONLY for people who are already legally here, you need to already have a green card… Hence the problem, there is NO way to adjust your immigration status if you are here illegally (without having been admitted through a immigration checkpoint)… And if you did want to adjust it say leave the country and apply, you cant because if you leave you automatically get penalized by a ten year ban from entering the US again because you lived in the US for more than two years illegally. And even if you marry a citizen (my wife’s case) you cant adjust unless the citizen can prove extreme hardship if the illegal alien is deported (very hard to do)… All these people are asking for is an opportunity to try and fix what they did wrong… The senate plan allows a path that would take over 13 years to even become eligible for citizenship and immigrants are ok with that. They don’t want amnesty (automatic citizenship) they want a process where they can pay fines learn english (whatever) just as long as they get the opportunity to stay here and not live a life of fear not knowing if they’ll make home that day to there kids because I.C.E might get them at work or walking home from work… I hope i kind of explained it, feel free to ask any questions ill try answer what i can…

      • vocamedia

        I get it about the hardships here. My church had to stop our well attended Spanish service because worshipers became “low hanging fruit” four our local ICE.

        The system definitely needs reform. The current system is working about as well as Prohibition. We need to admit it has proven just as popular and just as unenforceable. I keep hearing talk about “going to the back of the line.” I really think the line itself is the problem. The only line my grandfather encountered was on Ellis Island.

        A system that makes immigrants wait years and years with no assurance of an eventual visa just doesn’t work. I would think that migration from the rest of the Americas would be much more desirable than from Europe or elsewhere. Yet we put limits and quotas on them, then brand them criminals when they disregard these administrative barriers.It’s not like we’re dealing with a violent felony here. The real threat to our security comes from a policy so restrictive as to be disregarded.

        So far most of the ideas I’m hearing from Washington say to immigrants; “Yes, we do want and need your labor, and your taxes, but don’t expect to be allowed near our ballot box!” (That smacks of taxation without representation.)

        Of course, immigrants pay taxes now, Anyone who spends any money here can’t avoid it. Many also have income tax withheld under another SS number but can’t file for refunds.And of course anyone who spends money contributes to our Main Street economies.

        • TrainedHistorian

          ” I really think the line itself is the problem. The only line my grandfather encountered was on Ellis Island.”
          When Ellis Island was open the population was 50-75 million (now it’s 300 million) there was still a frontier (people who went West could still get some subsidized land from the government through the land grant system), and the great majority of Americans in cities had extremely low living standards because industrial labor was made very cheap by that mass immigration from abroad. (See Jacob Riis, Upton Sinclair, etc.)
          In contrast to the Ellis Island-era of very low living standards for workers, America created its first and only middle-class working class in the 1940-1975 period when immigration was limited to its lowest levels ever in its industrial period.
          This is why those of us with very little landed property, and very prospects of ever having much due to stagnant or declining wages in the bottom half, do NOT benefit from the virtually unlimited immigration levels of the Ellis Island period or the current virtually unlimited immigration levels, which is enabled by the lack of enforcement of nominal immigration limits. Rather we would benefit from more limited immigration, as we had from the 1940s to 1970s. And that is why the current immigration bills are completely wrong for the economy we have today.

    • Dave

      The world is over populated. The USA is over populated.
      Only China has taken drastic steps to limit population growth.
      We can no longer depend on increased population for a vibrant growing economy.
      We must develop a system of a vibrant economy without population growth.

      • TrainedHistorian

        An increased population in itself never caused a vibrant economy. It’s growth per capita that’s important. Societies that have population growth that exceed or just match economic growth aren’t vibrant at all but rather they stagnate or even experience falling standards of living. When population exploded in China in the 18th and 19th century, living standards for most peasants did not improve and actually declined in some areas because population growth outstripped economic growth. Capital and land owners do well when population grows so fast; hence the push for continuing to flood the US labor market with lower-skilled labor.

  • SSandimac

    Legal immigration status. Then those that want to be citizens can work to do so. My granddaughter’s father is a “green card” Mexican Immigrant & over a 20 year period he was able to bring all of his immediate family to the US, including his mother, sisters, brothers, cousins & their families.~ all legally.

    • hacimo

      According to present law, if you have committed a felony or if you have committed more then two misdemeanors, then you are banned from becoming a citizen. We have lots of conditions that disqualify a person from holding citizenship. This is no different. These illegal immigrants have committed a blatant violation of the borders of our beloved motherland. This is an act of outright rape! Many republicans are outraged by the idea that anyone who has done such things could be forgiven and rewarded with the status of american citizen. After rape, does a women offer to cook dinner for a the culprit? The very idea we would do this degrades us as a nation.

      • JinurfaceL

        So let me get this right, you are saying that a person who walks across a desert and comes to work their a$* off in the extreme heat and cold like a mule… Just to feed their families, is the same thing as the forceful act of sexual penetration in a defenseless child or woman?? The bleeding vgina or rctum of raped person is somehow related to a human being working to put food in the mouths of his/her children!??!!!!! Wow

        • hacimo

          A person who violates our international borders and works illegally in our labor market, is harming all americans. The traitor who hires such a person is even worse. They are collaborating to rob us of the ability to control our labor market by undercutting the going price for physical labor of a legal worker. The employer is taking a criminal advantage over his competitors. As an analogy, suppose a smuggler were to bring cheap pharmaceuticals into the country and undercut the price ethical drug companies charge for this drug. Would it not be considered a crime. Same thing with pirated software or DVD’s. Legitimate companies that had paid taxes and invested in research would be robbed of their rightful profit. It is the same principal if the smuggled commodity is human labor. These illegal immigrants (or any immigrants) have not lived here for years and paid taxes. They and their ancestors have not defended the nation in war after war. People and families that have paid their dues and shown loyalty through thick and thin need loyalty in return. They deserve to be defended and if we betray them then the country will fall apart. People will not pay taxes, nor follow the laws, nor fight and die for a nation that treats them like dirt when the chips are down. It will be every man for himself and the concept of our commonwealth will be ended.

          • JinurfaceL

            So i assume your just as mad at EVERY American company who automates jobs… Because American car manufacturers import most parts and just assemble in the US you know?? And most of the process is automated by Chinese or Japanese machines that take away hundreds of thousands of jobs from Americans… Also, i’m going to assume you don’t have a Chinese phone or computer because your obviously so passionate about American jobs lol… Or i really hope you don’t rent movies from RedBox because that one automated machine took away tens of thousands of jobs from Americans… And don’t even get me started on the millions of jobs that are shipped out of the US by massive corporations that republicans love to defend… Honestly, this game of hypocritical patriotism you are playing is getting old. Why don’t you just say that your just afraid of brown people and be done with it. And you didn’t really respond to my “rape” post btw

          • hacimo

            There is noting to be done about the offshoring of manufacturing jobs. We cannot force business people to build factories here as opposed to elsewhere. If we block imported goods, then foreign countries will block our exports and we will have a trade war and millions more will suffer. However this dismal situation means there is even more reason to protect the few blue-collar service jobs that cannot be exported. You cannot export construction work. A low wage Chinese worker cannot replace a cook or a truck driver. The remaining blue collar jobs are few and they are all needed by the workers who have been displaced from our lost factories. However the greed of the capitalists knows no bounds. Not only do they want to offshore the factory jobs but now they want to bring millions of immigrants onshore, to take the pitiful few jobs that cannot be off-shored. This is just not fair. You have to leave people with some way to make a living. Our population has lost a lot and now they deserve what protection we can give them. This means stopping unfair competition from illegal labor and keeping low skill immigration to a minimum. Ultimately this policy is even in the interests of the establishment. If we continue to drive people to the wall there will be a revolution. Criminality will rise and welfare and prison populations will explode. Wages have stagnated for the last 40 or 50 years and 12 million are unemployed. Job growth is anemic. There is hence no need for low skill immigrants. We have enough blue collar workers and their wages are already pathetic.

          • JinurfaceL

            The greed of the capitalists?? Wow, you sound like a liberal… i’ll just say this… If an unskilled, uneducated illegal who cant even speak english can take your job, then you dont deserve that job… In northern virginia (where i live) i see now hiring signs everywhere btw… I honestly cant relate to those who blame others for their failures, specially those who cant defend themselves… Plus, no one is arguing that illegal immigration is good… All im saying is that these people are already here and demonizing them as rapists (literal or not) isnt benifiting anyone… Why not have a real discussion on how to fix the issues intead of trying to use scare tactics to motivate hatred?? I could spend all day explaining the reasons and circumstances of why these people risked their lives and left their families just to enjoy the greatness of a day laborer but you obviously dont care… Good luck!!!

          • hacimo

            Go F*K yourself you plutocrat creep. There is no shame in working with your hands. You attitude towards the working people of this country says everything. Screw them. I wonder what you response would be if the immigrants were competing against you in your occupation. As far as I’m concerned you will be the first one hanging from a lamppost so it doesn’t matter.

          • hacimo

            We owe the least citizen a debt of solidarity if they are unemployed and having a hard time getting paid a living wage. We expect citizens to serve in our wars and obey the laws and pay taxes, serve on juries and help the community by volunteer work and charity. If you want such loyalty then you must show loyalty. Otherwise the country will fall apart. Except in occupations where their is a genuine labor shortage, all immigration, but particularly Illegal immigration, floods the labor market and drives down wages for blue collar workers. This is simply supply and demand. The fact that wages have been stagnant or dropping for 40 years tells us that there is no labor shortage. Thus until wages start rising significantly, the effect in increasing supply is simply to increase the return on capital. But this boon to investors has great indirect fiscal and human costs. The employers get cheap labor and the return on building a factor goes up, but the society ends up paying a high price in other ways. For example, the welfare and UI costs of the long term unemployed. The costs of the broken families and chioldren who will never reach their full potential. The increased crime. The lost taxes. In the end if you total t all up, we are better off restricting the labor market and allowing supply and demand operate so that wages rise. The employers will bid up the price of labor and allocate the available supply to the most productive avenues. The employers will also have an incentive to automate and increase efficiency. Restricting labor supply is therefor sound government economic policy. It is even best for business that currently use cheap labor. This is the lesson of how the southern agricultural economy adapted to the end of slavery. It is why the constitution gives the power to control immigration to the federal government and only to the federal government.

          • hacimo

            I see you are still stuck in the stereotype of illegals as illiterate field hands. Of course, americans used to do such work before their wages were undercut by competition from the illegals. I expected greater sympathy for the poor workers from a liberal. You are always profess great concern about the fact that 32% of our high school students drop out and can hardly read or write. I see however that you are one of those hollywood limousine liberals who have nothing but scorn for people who work with their hands. So exactly what shall we do with the millions of such people who turn 18 each year. What sort of living will they e able to make is they need to compete with unlimited third world immigration. And what about the environment? The senate immigrationbill will result in more then 35 million new residents of the USA within the first 10 years. This is not my number but i the number estimated by the congressional budget office. This means a 10% population jump in 10 years added to the 5-6% that will happen from our own natural births minus deaths. This is insanity. Have you ever been to an overpopulated third world country. Why do you think the indians and the Latino’s and the Chinese and the Arabs and Africans are trying to escaper from their countries? People live under hellish conditions. It will happen here if we simply keep blindly adding people when there is no work for them.

        • hacimo

          I see you want me to respond to this statement. But you seem to have grasped the analogy of sexual rape and the rape involved when our borders are violated. The French novelist and thief, Jean Genet wrote an autobiographical book called The “Thief’s Journal”. In it he talked much about the sexual thrill he felt when breaking into apartments with his “little Jimmy” and how he loves to play with his burglary tools. He discuss the violations he committed against the fat bitches living in luxury. He breaks into their space, destroys their private things, takes what they own for himself. Leaves them exposed with no safety and no security. So yes. The violation of our borders is an act of haterid and revenge. The idea that these “immigrants” are simply innocent peasants looking for work is nonsense. They know full well what they do and they know it is wrong. They themselves will admit it if you ask them,. They themselves preach the evils of “imperialism” and decry the arrogance of the conquistadors. They know what it is to be invaded and they know what it is to have a culture and a territory. Apparently you do not. You need to examine your existence. What are you? What manner of being. Has this existence not been diminished by the violation of your country? Just as the rapist humiliates his victim and diminishes their being and dignity.

      • jonathanpulliam

        “According to present law, if you have committed a felony or if you have committed more then two misdemeanors, then you are banned from becoming a citizen.” So Barack Obama, were he to apply for citizenship today, would be denied. Why does that not surprise me?

        • hacimo

          As far as I know Obama has no criminal record. Are you a member of some sort of birther-like cult that I don’t know about?

  • Robert Bray

    No citizenship no legal status. Just because you want to come into my house does not mean I have to invite you. If you sneak in anyway, you still have to leave when I find you. They came knowing the consequences, to change them is an insult to everyone that obeys our laws.

    • Dave

      10 million, 15 million, 20 million: Just an estimate.
      Foreign nationals, illegal aliens invading the USA is a danger to the continued existence of the USA.
      If we do not vigorously defend the law abiding society we will lose our great nation.
      The illegal aliens/parents made the decision took the gamble they are responsible and should suffer the consequences.
      The US employers and religious organization that promote this invasion must be punished.
      A side benefit of deportation is the spread of knowledge and experience of the USA way of running a society. Kind of like a free Peace Corps.

      • Jen

        Americans are danger to not only Mexicans. Wish every one of y’all without any heart could go take a little ride to Mexico and stay the hell there with nothing then try to come to a good country and get slammed down by everyone because you “are not good enough” cause you are an alien what the heck we are all human we eat sleep and go the same things.

        • Dave

          The spanish RCC church heritage has produced bad societies.
          We must not let the USA become more like Mexico.
          Protect the USA from Invasion, from destruction.

    • Jen

      American people mexican people we are all the same how would you like to live in dirt poor filthy poverty you people disgust me we are all humans then you go to Mexico spend some time in trash then you can or your filthy nasty mouths smh hoe can people be so heartless and only care about themselves think about others

  • paul

    Blah blah blah it amazes me how come all this illegals without papers and no s.s. Number hold jobs and my fellow american citizens with papers and s.s. Numbers can’t find a job!!! Ooohhh americans with aducation do not want a dishwasher job, now itmakes sense why they do not have jobs.

    • TrainedHistorian

      Your English needs improvement.

      • paul

        Thanks for advice, l’m always open for constructive critizism. :)

  • it_disqus

    We did this in the 80′s. When we do it again this time is being here illegally going to finally be illegal?

    • TrainedHistorian

      No, in practice it won’t because to do this you would have to actually penalize the undocumented and those who hire them, rather than rewarding them with legalization. Clearly no politicians have the bravery right now to penalize the undocumented and those who hire them because if they do they think they will lose the next election by being tarred as “racist” , “anti-immigrant” etc.
      Result: we will just have millions more “undocumented” in the shadows after we legalize this current batch, because more people will come illegally knowing full well there will be a new legalization down the road eventually for them too. And real wages for most workers here (low and medium skill) will continue to stagnate or decline because that’s what happens when labor market supply grows too fast relative to real economic growth.

      And you’re exactly right about the fiasco of the 1980s immigration pseudo-reform. This pseudo-reform bill repeats those same big mistake of the 1980s: it rewards people to come illegally, while trying to cover this essential fact up with empty promises of “really” sanctioning employers who hire the “undocumented,” and empty promises about “the border,” which is more and more irrelevant now that almost 40% of “undocumented” are visa-overstays rather than border crossers. Congress wouldn’t even agree to a modern tracking system of such visas over-stays, because of the alleged “expense”, so you can see that this bill is all about cynical, short-term political calculation of winning elections rather than doing what would be best for the majority of workers already here, who do NOT need more competition from millions more low and medium skill workers. Low and medium skill workers here already are paid so little they barely scrape by.

  • AnthonyLook

    Short of a path to citizenship; there won’t be an agreement. Republicans will lose more representatives in 2014 and have less a say on what gets passed. If they persist, then come 2016 even more Republicans will be voted out, and then there will comprehensive immigration reform legislation passed. In the meantime there is no immigration reform and even more immigrants will end up in American soil. Republicans need to work with the Democrats and the President or face a possible period of having little input.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

April 22 Comment

What Do We Have To Teach Plato?

Philosopher Rebecca Newberger Goldstein discusses her new book "Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won't Go Away."

April 22 21 Comments

Children’s Literature: Apartheid Or Just A General Lack of Color?

African-American children's book authors Walter Dean Myers and his son Christopher Myers weigh in.

April 21 Comment

Remembering Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter

We remember the boxing champion, who was twice wrongly convicted of murder, with his longtime friend and defender.

April 21 2 Comments

‘Wait Wait’ Host Peter Sagal Runs Boston Marathon As Guide

For the second year in a row, the host of NPR's "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me" is running with a legally blind athlete.