REUBEN S. SEGURITAN
President Barack Obama breathed
new life into the much needed
reforms last week by reiterating
his intention to tackle the
issue as a priority this year.
After several failed attempts to
pass legislations to reform the
outdated immigration policies
and fix the flawed immigration
bureaucracy, this renewed
commitment by President Obama
stands a bigger chance of coming
into fruition with the united
support of several influential
interest groups, particularly
the labor unions.
This week, the two most powerful
labor federations, the AFL-CIO
and the Change to Win, agreed
for the first time to join
forces in pushing for the
legalization of undocumented
aliens and their families.
Other advocacy groups have also come out openly for reforms.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has expressed continued support for a guest worker program. A coalition of advocacy groups has committed $18 million to campaign around the country and rallies are expected in several cities in the coming weeks.
There is ample support for
comprehensive reform in the
current Congress. Senate
Majority Leader Harry Reid and
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have
long championed immigration
Representative Luis Gutierrez of Illinois has been touring the country since December to generate enthusiasm on the issue.
Of course, as in the past, there are opponents of
immigration reforms, particularly in the face of
major unemployment and recession in the U.S.
However, studies and data released by economic and
labor experts as provided by the Immigration Policy
Center showed that contrary to the fear of its
probable dire effects, legalizing undocumented
workers already in the U.S. would actually redound
to the benefit of all American workers and help
revitalize the U.S. economy.
First of all, legalization of undocumented immigrant
workers will increase wages of all U.S. workers by
“bringing people out of the shadows” and preventing
employers from exploiting the illegal workers by
paying them lower than prevailing wages, thus,
depressing the wage rate for all U.S. workers.
It would allow workers to be treated fairly and
provide a level playing field for all U.S. workers
to compete for jobs in the labor market.
Also, integrating undocumented immigrants into the
U.S. legal system will motivate them to invest in
themselves and in their communities, and this will bring
in more revenues into the economy.
The Obama proposal will remove incentives to enter
the country illegally by cracking down on employers who
hire undocumented immigrants. It will keep families
together, meet the demand for jobs that employers cannot
fill, and will enforce border security.
Mr. Obama’s thrust is to frame a “policy reform that
controls immigration and make it an orderly system”
according to Cecilia Munoz, a deputy assistant to the
president and director of intergovernmental affairs in
the White House.
The studies showed that the new policy reform would
actually reduce the high bureaucratic cost of
“enforcement-only” approach to immigration and would pay
for itself by increasing the wages, the buying power and
the tax contributions of all working people.
Addressing this difficult issue will not mean that
other priority issues will take a backseat such as
healthcare, education, security and the economy. It is
part of a comprehensive approach to “support the
country’s economic recovery and allow honest,
hardworking people to become lawful, contributing
members of our society”, according to Angela Kelley,
Director of the Immigration Policy Center in Washington
REUBEN S. SEGURITAN
has been practicing law for over 30 years and is included in the Marquis Who’s Who in American Law. A former law editor, he previously taught law and international politics and is the author of “We Didn’t Pass Through the Golden Door.” He frequently writes and speaks on immigration and other legal topics. He has received numerous awards in the U.S. and abroad, including several outstanding professional awards and Philippine Presidential awards. For more information, you may log on to his website at www.seguritan.com or call (212) 695-5281