As President Bush plugged his new immigration reform plan in Yuma, Arizona this week, the opposing camps in the country's immigration wars had already dug in their heels to oppose it. A year after his first attempt failed, Bush presented a more punitive proposal. It would allow immigrant workers to apply for 3-year work visas at a cost of $3,500, but require they return to their home countries and pay fines of $10,000 to become legal residents. It's unclear whether he can muster enough Republican support and cobble together a Congressional alliance that would actually get something passed. What is clear is that neither side is pleased with the president's new offering.
Immigrant advocates protested in Los Angeles last week after the plan was leaked, and a press release titled "Bush Immigration Proposal Falls Short" was circulated by Dallas members of the League of United Latin American Citizens. On the other side, groups such as the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps disparage any proposal that provides a path to residency or citizenship, headlining their press release "President Rolls Out Red Carpet for Amnesty." Incidentally, both organizations are engaged in a flurry of immigration-related events this month. The Minuteman Civil Defense Corps is well into its annual April border-watch, called Operation Stand Your Ground, which places volunteers along the border to peer through binoculars, spot crossing migrants and report them to the Border Patrol. LULAC, on the other hand, is organizing citizenship and voter-registration rallies and protests, like the one held outside Dallas City Hall on April 1.
For a point-counterpoint read, check out the dueling statements after the jump. --Megan Feldman
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Bush Immigration Proposal Falls Short President's plan fails to outline a comprehensive bill that is workable, fair and just
Washington, DC -- The League of United Latin American Citizens urges President Bush to work with the bipartisan coalition of House and Senate leaders who have introduced comprehensive immigration reform legislation that is workable and honors our country's tradition as a nation of immigrants.
As currently worded, President Bush's plan would unnecessarily split families and create a permanent underclass of temporary workers with no prospects of fully participating in U.S. society. Under the President's proposal fines and fees for regularizing one's status would grow to well over $20,000 per person making it unlikely that low income workers would ever be able to become permanent legal residents.
The American people support reasonable immigration reform that would provide a realistic pathway for hardworking immigrants to become permanent legal residents provided they undergo a background check, pay a fine, pay back taxes, learn English and obey the law. Americans also want to encourage future immigrant workers to come in legally and to help reunite families waiting for a visa for their loved ones.
"We commend the President for reaffirming his support of comprehensive immigration reform in Yuma, Arizona today," said LULAC National President Rosa Rosales. "Unfortunately, the President's proposal falls short of his commitment to providing a realistic pathway for hard working immigrants to have a shot at the American Dream."
Under the President's proposal, whole visa categories for close family members are eliminated. The proposal creates new Y and Z visa categories requiring applicants to pay fines from $3,500 every three years in order to work and $10,000 to apply for permanent status. These new categories expressly forbid family members to accompany any Z or Y visa holder. In addition, visa holders who choose to apply for permanent status at any time would have to return to their country of origin and get in back of the line regardless of the number of years they have worked legally or the thousands paid in fines.
LULAC does agree with President Bush that comprehensive immigration reform should be passed this year and we encourage him to keep pushing Congress to send a bill to him this year. The League of United Latin American Citizens, the oldest and largest Hispanic membership organization in the country, advances the economic conditions, educational attainment, political influence, health and civil rights of Hispanic Americans through community-based programs operating at more than 700 LULAC councils nationwide.
Local contact -Domingo Garcia 214-941-XXXX
From the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps:
PRESIDENT ROLLS OUT RED CARPET FOR AMNESTY
BUSH FAILS TO HOLD THE LINE ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION AND DRUG TRAFFICKING TO CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICAN LEADERS
PHOENIX, AZ-The Minuteman Civil Defense Corps (MCDC) express dismay towards the "diplomacy" of President George W. Bush's trip to Central and South America, where he laid out the red carpet for amnesty of those entering the United States illegally. Rather than inform his international counterparts that the United States will strictly enforce our immigration laws, and that he expects them to strengthen their economies in order to ensure their countries are economically viable enough to sustain their own people in industries other than drug and human trafficking, Bush weakly waved the white flag of surrendered U.S. sovereignty.
While the President traveled throughout countries in South and Central America these last few days, he told their leaders that he is embracing "comprehensive immigration reform" for the U.S.-a euphemism for open borders which has already been identified as a policy roadmap to full-on amnesty. This administration's agenda continues to permit Mexico to exploit the drug trade, and President Felipe Calderon to embarrass our nation and its citizens who suffer from drug addictions with criticisms of America such as were reported on this failed trip.
"Our President squandered an opportunity to let the world know that we are serious about border security and immigration reform," states Chris Simcox, founder and President of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps. "A fence on our southern border would curtail drug trafficking and thereby prevent the Mexican President from making our country the butt of his jokes about the character of our people."
During his several day visit, the President let the Central and South American countries know he has created a roadmap to amnesty that will allow many of their citizens remain despite entering the U.S. illegally, in an effort to prop up their economies and revitalize their nations' commitment to NAFTA. The President emphasized his feelings when he told each President he met with, "I will work as hard as I possibly can to pass comprehensive immigration reform."
Simcox continues, "We will not allow our President to lay out a red carpet to international gang syndicates, arms dealers, sex traders, rapists, drug traffickers and terrorists. The President misled his counterparts by letting them think U.S. citizens would welcome the illegal invasion of foreign nationals under the guise of free trade."
The Minutemen continue to volunteer their time, energy and personal funds in order to build highly effective demonstration security fencing on private ranch land, expensed through private donations obtained from thousands of citizens nationally. This Minuteman project has taken steps to build fence along the border utilizing the fiber optic mesh produced by FOMGuard, USA, also currently in use on U.S. military installations, the DMZ in Korea and the West Bank in Israel. The Minuteman Corps is committed to complete this project even while the U.S. Congress "authorized" and then the Bush administration neglected to release funding for a fence on the United States-Mexico border last year.
The Minuteman Civil Defense Corps (MCDC) is a peaceful, law-abiding and citizen-led initiative organized to stand watch at our borders and in our neighborhoods, report illegal activities to the proper authorities, and build border fencing on private lands using private donations. Additionally, MCDC seeks to urge local and federal officials to enforce our immigration laws in order to keep our families and country safe. MCDC conducts border watch operations that assist the activities of the U.S. Border Patrol, reports employers of illegal aliens, and advocates to keeps tax dollars from being used for illegal alien benefits.