There is a good news for 11 millions undocumented immigrants in the United States. Taboo is broken. They are at the heart of the debate which is sharpening on the Capital Hill and in the White House. Die is already cast but no body knows what will be the final product. Blanket amnesty is ruled out. They may get some type of legalization. It may be permission to work legally in the Untied States in the first stage, then graduating for permanent residency and eventually crossing the final bar, citizenship. It may be that the undocumented immigrants present in the U.S. may be covered under the guest worker program – an other way to legalize them.
Besides what type of legalization is on the way, an other question which begs answer is who will qualify? Weather the legalization will extend to all the undocumented immigrants who are at present in the United states or to some of them? And who will be fortunate ones? Published reports suggest that some conditions will be attached for legalization. The conditions an undocumented worker has to fulfill are steady work history, no criminal record, duration of stay in the U.S., links with the community, and prospects of employment to name the few.
Then the question which is propping up again and again in the datable is which nationality will qualify for some type of legalization. It will be only the Mexicans or the undocumented immigrants of all nationalities. First it was reported that the fortunate ones will be only the Mexicans, now others nationalities are also included.
The most important question is when any type of legalization will be announced? Possibility is in the month of coming September when the Mexican president will visit the United States.
The bottom line is that at this moment, no body is certain what the final product will be. These headlines from the mainstream media are also reflective of different road maps and different scenario in deciding the fate of the undocumented immigrants. Democrats Up Ante to Reform immigration. Democrats to Offer Plan To Reform Immigration. Democrats Counter Bush Proposal on Immigrants. Residency at Core of Immigrants Debate. Bush Hints at Broader Amnesty. Bush May Expand Residency Plan. Bush Say Plan for Immigrants Could Expand. Other Immigrants, Envying Mexicans, Demand a Break, Too. All sides flay Bush alien plan. Bush Weighing Plan for Mexican Guest Worker.
Viewing these headlines no body can predict what the ruling elite is cooking.
Why the ruling elite, Democrats and Republicans, changed their position on the issue of relief for the undocumented workers? Almost all analysts agree that the motive force for this change of heart is politics. Both parties are conscious of the numerical strength of the communities of color (Africans, Latinos, Caribbeans and Asians). They are more than 80 million out of a population of 281 millions. These communities of color are more interested for the legalization of the undocumented workers for obvious reasons. Bulk of the undocumented workers is from the World of Color (Africa, Latin America, Mexico, Asia and Caribbean countries). There are so many reasons for this sad development. First, discrimination on all level in immigration process – from getting a visa to legalization. Second, the poverty in the world of color due to the exploitation by the U.S., Great Britain, and France. Third, wars imposed by the U.S. in so-called Pax-Americana and civil wars fueled by the U.S. to keep its American century afloat. Total death toll in the Cold war is more than 120 millions. The more tragic part is that 80 percent of these 120 millions are civilians.
Any pro-immigrant gesture hit a chord with these communities of color. Presidential and Congressional elections since 1996 have proved their political weight to the Republicans and the Democrats. Republicans are more conscious because they had to pay a very heavy price in these elections. They are hanging with a razor-thin majority in the House. They have already lost their majority status in the Senate. Any set back in the congressional election of 2002 would end their majority status in the House of Representatives. It is a nightmare for them and as result they are desperate to woe the votes of the minorities of color to maintain their majority at least in the House. On the other hand, Democrats are determined to stop the Republicans to make any in road in the communities of color. This loss they are not ready to stomach. About 95 percent communities of color are Democrats.
This new factor, the balancing power of the minorities of color in the U.S. politics, explains the emergence of Republican and Democratic plans to deal with the issue of undocumented workers. The Republicans Task Force was headed by the Secretary of State Powell and Attorney General Ashcraft. They submitted a two page confidential memorandum to deal with the undocumented immigrants from Mexico. Then came the Democratic plan from the task force co-chaired by Rep. Gutierivez, Rep. Sheela Jackson and Rep. Slvestre Reyes. It was more inclusive than the Republican proposed plan.
Republican plan initially dealt with the Mexicans undocumented immigrants which are the largest group among the undocumented immigrants from any other country. Conservative estimates are they are about three million in the United States. Conservative’s plan proposed legalization for some of the Mexican undocumented immigrants. Then the Republicans hinted to include the undocumented immigrants of other nationalities also.
Democratic plan proposes to legalize 6 to 8 millions undocumented immigrants. Some of the outstanding features of the Democratic plans are 1. ” Allowing more immigrants into the United States to reunite families. 2. A program of earned legalization. Such approach would target longtime, hard-working residents of good moral character, with no criminal problems who are otherwise eligible to become U.S. citizens. 3. An expanded program of temporary workers, paving the way for them to have permanent immigrants status and eventual citizenship.” Democrats Up Ante to Reform Immigration, Los Angeles Times, August 3,2001.
One note of caution about the proposed “conditional amnesty”. First, no body knows it will be this year or the next year which is slated for the Congressional elections. Possibility is that some proposal will be on the table this year and final decision will be taken next year. An important explanation. An amnesty is an amnesty. It does not matter how limited it is. For an illegal immigrant who does not have a permission to work legally in the United States, permission to work legally is a blessing. The same is the case if the illegal immigrants can get permission to travel freely to their countries and come back without any problem. Of course, the best thing for them is blanket immensity. But the main problem is that both parties have demonized the undocumented immigrants so much since 1994. Now reversing the position is very difficult. So they are looking for ways for not “rewarding the law breakers”- the illegal immigrants.