A diluted version of the immigration bills that we mobilized against has passed in the House of Representatives. The results are a mixed bag, with some breaks for legal immigrants, but an intensified crackdown against undocumented migrants. Opposition to the bills helped convince legislators to vote against the proposed cuts in employment visas and the severe restrictions on family reunification. But they did vote for cuts in public aid to legal immigrants and full sponsorship for new entrants. The overwhelming endorsement of harsher measures against illegal immigrants disturbs us in the light of an almost uniform unwillingness to recognize the role they play in the U.S. economy. It is clear from the way the concessions worked out that the needs and contributions of the most exploited and vulnerable sections of the immigrant community will continue to be ignored.
The original impetus for the bills is:
The bills sought to seriously undermine the democratic tenor of Immigration Acts passed since 1965 that have opened the doors to immigrants and refugees, especially from non-European countries. This does not bode well for immigrants, even those who belong to ethnic groups that have been in this country for generations.
The bills are yet another sign (as was the vetoed Welfare Reform Bill) to displace the problems of an ailing economy on immigrants and minorities. Historically, this country has been built on the backs of immigrants--white and people of color. At present, immigrants contribute $25 billion more to the treasury than they take out in benefits and services. Yet, the bills propose to eliminate these services to those most vulnerable--the aged, the newly-arrived, women and children.
Historically, immigrants have also organized successfully to stand up against waves of xenophobia and scapegoating, the most recent examples being the activism against Proposition 187 in California and the Welfare Reform Bill in Congress.
We need to be on top of the issues that the immigration bills raise and sustain our interest in them so that immigrants and immigration are not targets of discrimination in the present conservative environment.
[Navigating Way Net]
Last altered May 29, 1996