It’s time to give illegal workers a path to citizenship

WASHINGTON — An ambitious leader who tends to see opportunity in crisis, President Obama has been criticized, even by some supporters, for attempting to do too much too soon. But it took the Arizona controversy to force his administration to consider tackling comprehensive immigration reform before the mid-term elections.

With the electorate roiled by the recession and rattled by the deficit, Democrats are looking at significant losses in November. They’ve already been bruised by a vicious (but necessary) fight over health care, and they aren’t in the mood for another battle royale.

And, let’s face it, the debate over immigration reform will be contentious, protracted and polarized, uglier, in all likelihood, than the polemics over health care. After all, immigration raises the specter of race and ethnicity — subjects that don’t lend themselves to low-key, thoughtful discussion.

But those charged with responsibility for the public weal don’t always get to choose the most politically opportune moment to act. Sometimes, if you’re an elected official, you just have to do the right thing when the time comes. And the time has come for comprehensive immigration reform.

By passing an ugly law that practically mandates racial profiling, the Arizona Legislature brought the problem to the doorsteps of Congress. Its members would be complicit in the shameful Arizona conduct if they refused to pass legislation that secures the borders while giving illegal workers a pathway to citizenship. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called the Arizona law “a wake-up call for the federal government to act.”

With the blessing of then-President George W. Bush, Congress tackled immigration reform in 2007. But the effort died when the GOP base rebelled against efforts to naturalize illegal immigrants already here.

Republicans have been reluctant to offer a pathway to citizenship since then. As Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) put it Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” “. . .Until you secure the border, trying to really have an overall reform package on immigration just simply can’t be done.”

That’s not to suggest Democrats are uniformly in favor of a comprehensive plan. They’re divided — reflecting the unease many of their voters have with illegal immigration. In cities and towns across the country, from Iowa to Georgia, schools have been overwhelmed by children who don’t speak English; hospital emergency rooms have been overstretched by uninsured immigrants; and neighborhoods have been transformed by transient populations of working-age men living together in single-family dwellings.

The irony is that the United States practically invited undocumented laborers into the country during the go-go ‘90s, when houses needed to be built, hotel rooms needed to be cleaned and babies with working moms needed to be tended. Back then, agribusinesses, construction companies and carpet-makers, among others, demanded a steady supply of cheap labor.

Many of those workers started families, paid taxes and even established small businesses. Lawn care workers started landscape companies. Maids started cleaning businesses. Nannies opened childcare centers. The nation that thinks of itself as the “shining city on a hill” would be downright mean to suggest that those workers don’t deserve a path to citizenship after several years here.

“God has been good to America, and we need to love all of God’s children,” said Rev. Gregory M. Williams, president of Atlantans Building Leadership for Empowerment, a non-profit which advocates for social justice. “It’s a complicated issue, but we have to start somewhere to rectify this broken system.”

Williams, pastor of Holsey Temple CME Church, is among the leaders of a pro-reform “faith walk” and rally planned for Saturday in Atlanta, one of several rallies planned around the country. He and other advocates hope to persuade Congress that the time to do the right thing is right now.

402 comments Add your comment

Cynthia is Sexy!

April 28th, 2010
8:10 am

Oh ya…Great Idea! In this manner all the illegals who would become legal could vote for Obama and his inept cronies (Thats the Dems idean anyway). The AZ law is not ugly nor wrong. It is the illegals who are wrong, hence, the name.

Seems bait and switch has become the democratic mantra.

If it takes racial profiling then that is what it will take. Its time they observe and abide by the laws or be tossed out on their behinds. Them and their anchor babies…

Peadawg

April 28th, 2010
8:13 am

What about all the LEGAL workers that are already here that don’t have a job? Or do you not care about those people, Cynthia? And you call yourself a Christian…..

Peadawg

April 28th, 2010
8:16 am

Or hey, I got it!! Quit your job for 6 months and live in a legal, unemployed American’s shoe. Then we’ll see if you still write these articles. And you wonder why the Democrats are labeled as un-American.

Drawing Black Lines

April 28th, 2010
8:20 am

I agree. But put our troops on the border and prevent ALL new illegals from coming in – PERIOD

Peadawg

April 28th, 2010
8:23 am

Or how about we put LEGAL Americans to work right now. Build a fence along the US/Mexico border. Add an electric current. Problem solved. Comprende?

Jimmy62

April 28th, 2010
8:24 am

I’m sure there are plenty of legal US citizens who are unemployed and losing jobs to illegals. Which means criminals. And Cynthia not only wants us to not throw these people out, she wants to reward them. For taking jobs from people who have lived here their whole lives.

The left doesn’t care about you, it only cares about power. If they cared about you, the average American, then they wouldn’t try to reward criminals for breaking the law. But those criminals are likely to vote for Democrats, and that means power, all the left cares about, the power to control and force everyone to act how the left wants them to act.

Lumpkin resident

April 28th, 2010
8:27 am

First: IF we gave these workers a path to citizenship, how many MORE amnesties do we have to put up with
Second: When is the border going to be closed? When will we treat illegal Mexicans like the Mexican government treats other Latin American border jumpers?

Third: IF we gave these people citizenship, THEN , on average, they would become burdens to our society. On average, they would receive free healthcare, free food, free housing assistance and pay no Federal income taxes AT ALL.

I remember the last Amnesty when the people of the U.S. were PROMISED that it would be the last if we agreed to it.

The last amnesty drastically INCREASED illegal immigration. We cannot permit another amnesty unless/untill the border is shut down. Since Democrats REFUSE to shut the border, there can be no path to citizenship for illegals.

ctucker

April 28th, 2010
8:30 am

Lumpkin resident, You’re blaming Democrats for “refusing to shut the border”? Did George Bush shut the border?

T-Town

April 28th, 2010
8:30 am

If you cross the N. Korean border illegally, you get 12 years of hard labor;
If you cross the Iranian border illegally, you are detained indefinitely;
If you cross the Afgahan border illegally, you get shot;
If you cross the Saudi border illegally, you will be jailed;
If you cross the Chinese border illegally, you may never be heard from again;
If you cross the Venezuelan border (except if your Sean Penn) illegally; you will be branded a spy and your fate will be sealed;
If you cross the Cuban border illegally, you will be thrown into a political prison to rot;

Now if you cross the U.S. border illegally, you get a job, a driver’s license, SS card, welfare, food stamps, credit cards, subsidized rent or a loan to buy a house, free education, free health care, a lobbyist in Washington for your cause, and in many instances you can vote. I don’t where you came from or what language you speak, I shouldn’t have to press 1 for English.

ctucker

April 28th, 2010
8:31 am

Jimmy62, There’s plenty of research which shows illegal immigrants took jobs that US residents wouldn’t take

3rd Party Guy

April 28th, 2010
8:34 am

“illegal immigrants took jobs that US residents wouldn’t take”

That sounds just a Republican talking.

youarekiddingright

April 28th, 2010
8:34 am

while we’re at it, lets give tax cheats, bank robbers and murders amnesty too!

3rd Party Guy

April 28th, 2010
8:35 am

…just LIKE a Republican…that is.

Texan

April 28th, 2010
8:35 am

If we need legal workers, let them come in the legal way.

Ponder

April 28th, 2010
8:36 am

Unfortunately the Democrat version of “comprehensive immigration reform” equals amnesty.

A number of issues here, including Republicans see labor while Democrats see votes, seems Arizona’s “ugly law” is only enforcement of existing Federal law and not quite that ugly, there IS process for legal immigration which others comply with, a continuing drain by illegals on our societal resources, secure our borders first – then worry about what to do with the current illegals, and “Illegal is Illegal — end of discussion”!!!

BTW, seems CT’s “An ambitious leader who tends to see opportunity in crisis” should read “tends to create crisis and respond with if we don’t act… Seems, as usual, we have very different positions and recommendations of what the “right thing to do” is…

Question

April 28th, 2010
8:39 am

CT at 8:31 — There’s plenty of research which shows illegal immigrants took jobs that US residents wouldn’t take.

Curious – does the “research” say why US residents wouldn’t take those jobs?

Lumpkin resident

April 28th, 2010
8:42 am

Cynthia, the Democrats have always demanded “comprehensive reform” that has never seriously attempted to shut the border. A significant number of Republicans DO support amnesty, so this is not just a Dem/Republican battle. But the Republicans, at least, can be persuaded to try to do something about the border, while Democrats are unwilling to do anything at all.

Frankly, I have been disingenuous. I don’t believe that the border can be shut (due to the nature of it), and therefore any amnesty will lead to more illegal immigration and more amnesty. The 1986 amnesty PROVED this. Illegal immigrants are here to stay. We cannot afford them, and we cannot afford to ignore them. The best way to handle them is to limit their choices, not allow them to hold jobs, and encourage them to leave and not come back.

Drawing Black Lines

April 28th, 2010
8:42 am

Republicans and Democrats have both failed to CLOSE and SECURE the border…waiting…

Drawing Black Lines

April 28th, 2010
8:43 am

Enter your comments here

Peadawg

April 28th, 2010
8:44 am

“There’s plenty of research which shows illegal immigrants took jobs that US residents wouldn’t take.”

When was this research done, 10 yrs ago when the economy was doing great? Do that same survey now and I guarantee it’ll be different.

Beth

April 28th, 2010
8:49 am

This article is wrong, wrong, wrong. My husband is a legal immigrant from Canada (American Indian) and we have spent many hours on paperwork, visiting immigration offices and thousands of dollars on fees for him to live in this Country; even though it took a lot of sacrifice to do so; as we are of extremely modest means by anyone’s standards. Why should anybody bother to do it legally if people are just going to be able to get in illegally, anyways? What you’re suggesting is a slap in the face to all those who take the legal path to citizenship and my husband will be the first to tell you that- he has very strong feelings on the subject.

Illegal is illegal is illegal. Period.

Citizen

April 28th, 2010
8:49 am

Illegal aliens are being knowingly employed are probably being payed less than the law allows, because they are undocumented. They are also probably not given the same worker protections that citizens and documented aliens are given. Hence, any sensible American would not take such a job. Giving citizenship to more illegal immigrants just gives more voting power to allow more illegal immigrants to come into our country. Unions did’t fight and die for workers rights to have foreigners steal it from them.

Keep up the good fight!

April 28th, 2010
8:49 am

peabrain…now you claimthat no one need be unemployed, that only the lazy were unemployed and there should be no entitlements. Now you want some sort of “we were here first” entitlement? (which we were not, unless you are native american).

Sarah H

April 28th, 2010
8:52 am

I am so glad to hear that one of the Georgia officials want to enact the Arizona law here.

ctucker

April 28th, 2010
8:55 am

Citizen, I agree that the illegal immigrants are exploited in the workplace. I’ve long argued that the best way to reduce illegal immigration is to impose stiff penalties — including jail time — on employers who hire them. But there is little clamor for that.

Peadawg

April 28th, 2010
8:55 am

“that only the lazy were unemployed”

Never claimed that. Nice try though.

mdump

April 28th, 2010
8:56 am

I have a Hispanic friend he is legal,and he say’s that he doesn’t have a problem with showing his papers,he is very proud of them. He also told me that the Illegals have brought this on to them selves by not seeking the legal way to enter the USA. I am proud to be his friend.

ctucker

April 28th, 2010
8:58 am

Lumpkin, The 2007 bill included serious steps to police the border. But it didn’t pass because the GOP backed away from it. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss negotiated to get tougher border protections in the bill. But then, after they got what they wanted, they refused to vote for it. Why? They got booed at the state GOP convention for supporting the bill because it included a pathway to citizenship.

Mike

April 28th, 2010
8:58 am

I sorry but this is bull—t, here we go again rewarding people for breaking the law. We will never get controll of our borders this way. It’s time to stop rewarding these people for entering the country illegally and start forcing them to abide by the law.

ctucker

April 28th, 2010
8:59 am

Question, Low wages, for one thing.

Peadawg

April 28th, 2010
9:00 am

“because it included a pathway to citizenship.”

Good they got booed. We’ve got plenty of legal Americans here that are out of work. Cynthia, are you going to do what I suggested at 8:16?

Curt

April 28th, 2010
9:01 am

Cry me a river Cynthia! Many of those illegal workers paid taxes? What do you consider many? 100? 300? Got news for you…you are wrong. I guess you are also for arresting the crack dealer but letting the buyer that is breaking the law as well go free?

All humans deserve the right to a better life. If coming to the US is the dream, then we welcome them with open arms. Allowing illegal aliens to break the law then be rewarded with a golden parachute is flat out wrong. They need to do it the proper way. If they don’t learn how to be responsible now, how can you ever expect them to respect our other laws once comfortable here?

You’re left wing kook commentary is what is wrong with this country now.

Jeanjeanie

April 28th, 2010
9:02 am

Isn’t it time to tell the truth, illegal immigration has done a great deal of damage to many towns and neighborhoods. I watch them as they leave for work and return at 5pm everyday. Yet, I know so many who can’t find a job. I live in a town that is 80% Hispanic and a good portion of that are illegals that came to work here on agricultural visas but quit the fields within a month or so to get the better jobs. They’re working ALL the fast food jobs here, supermarkets, motels you name it, they are there. And you can’t get a job here unless you speak Spanish. Even the American born Hispanics that don’t speak Spanish can’t get a job. You talk about an invasion, we are saturated with illegals.

Aquagirl

April 28th, 2010
9:10 am

Let’s not forget Saxby Chambliss’ courageous Onion Field Stand. When the INS came to arrest illegal workers, he showed up at the behest of his federally-subsidized farm friends to stop the INS from doing their job. And y’all wonder why more illegal immigrants followed? It’s the jobs, stupid. No doubt some would like to escape the U.S. funded drug wars too.

Shawny

April 28th, 2010
9:12 am

We have a path. It is to go through the legal process (while waiting in the country of origin), and when approved and nationalized, can enter and become citizens.

The laws have been on the books for 90 years. Why is it so hard? lawbreakers are lawbreakers.

It is a shame that in Arizona they feel the need to pass a law that says we should enforce an existing law. Why is that necessary?

Sarah H

April 28th, 2010
9:13 am

Just like the Cubans were determined to take over Miami (and they did), some groups of hispanics are determined to take over the rest of the USA.

Vyper3000

April 28th, 2010
9:13 am

I swear, you can’t get into this debate without some bonehead bringing up that old, tired “illegal immigrants take jobs that other people won’t again”. Bull. What, you think nobody cut grass, did laundr, painted houses, dug ditches, or harvested crops before they got here? Do you honestly think that if the illegals suddenly disappeared that all these jobs would sit unfilled? Oh, please. No, illegals don’t take jobs nobody else wants: they take jobs and get paid less than a LEGAL immigrant or an American citizen would have taken and probably been paid better for. Yes, getting your grass cut would be a little more expensive, but it’s money that would be staying in this country instead of being sent home to Mexico every month. It would be pumped back into OUR economy, not theirs. What’s more it might just prompt one or two lazy folks to get out and cut their own grass for a change. Illegal aliens are not “immigrants” – they are criminals by the very definition of the word. Cynthia, the path to citizenship is already there: it’s called “the same rules everyone else has to play by”. Liberals live by finding ways to bend and break the rules – or abolish them altogether – for their own political aims. Round ‘em up, send ‘em back, charge the fence, shoot a few trying to cross, and enforce the good laws we already have: don’t make exceptions to make yourself falsely appear kind and compassionate.

T-Town

April 28th, 2010
9:13 am

The American government, whether they be Democrats or Republicans, deal with many problems including immigration like the problem was of electronic in nature. You don’t fix it properly, you smack it until it works and if that doesn’t work, you throw it away and buy a new one.

Bill Hartzell

April 28th, 2010
9:14 am

If you want to be an immigrant, do it legally- go back to your home country and go about immigration the right way. Otherwise, we don’t need you.

Karl Marx

April 28th, 2010
9:17 am

Agreed, go home and apply for a visa just like everyone else must do.

commoncents

April 28th, 2010
9:17 am

so we’re worried about our budget, but democrats don’t see anything wrong with giving illegals (on average) $3-4 for every dollar they pay in taxes?

And then we can make them legal citizens, and guarantee them social security and health care for life????

This seems seriously flawed

Beth

April 28th, 2010
9:18 am

Vyper3000; GREAT post! You nailed it!

DeKalb Conservative

April 28th, 2010
9:19 am

Want a broken system? I witnessed it myself a few months ago. A young graduate from GA Tech had to go back to her home country because lawyers were unable to obtain a work visa. She was highly skilled and followed the proper process and went through considerable expense.

I’ll take this person any day over a person who is coming here illegally, contributing little, but taking plenty in social services.

Why are we defending the low skilled worker that snuck in while ignoring the high skilled worker that gets rejected after following the rules and waiting in line??

Granny Godzilla

April 28th, 2010
9:20 am

Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me

I’m with that guy.

Jimnalph

April 28th, 2010
9:22 am

Cynthia- there already is a path. What you are really saying is that you want that path to be much easier and streamlined. You just want to let everyone in. Maybe you could adopt a few.

Reality

April 28th, 2010
9:22 am

In my opinion, there is already a path for non-citizens to become a citizen. This has been very successful for decades and I do not see a need to change it.

The problem that I have is with the word “illegal”. This means that they have broke a law – and they have. They entered the US illegally.

You don’t reward someone that has broken a law by giving them what they want.

I don’t have all of the answers, but to me it just doesn’t make any sense to reward “illegal” aliens with US citizenship. They need to have some sort of punishment…. and I don’t necessarily mean shipped back to their own Country.

I Report/You Decide

April 28th, 2010
9:26 am

Since when do the Feds get to tell Arizona how to run their state?

TisP'doff

April 28th, 2010
9:28 am

If you come across the border illegally, you’ve already committed a crime. If you want to come into this country, do it the right way. Learn english and become part of the solution instead of the problem.

Jim in Ga

April 28th, 2010
9:30 am

No way, no how. If you add 30 million now, you will have millions more flock to the US and then in 10 years we’ll have the same issue.

PanchoVilla

April 28th, 2010
9:32 am

I laugh everytime ignorant people say that Illegal immigrants take away jobs from Legal Americans. Yeah like Americans want to pick up fruit and vegetables under extreme temps. Yeah like Americans want to clean toilets, do landscaping, drywall, cook at restaurants and babysit for less than minimum wage. To the uniformed ignorant people, Ilegal do pay taxes when they buy stuff, pay taxes when they renew their tags, pay taxes on their houses, and even pay taxes when doing money transfers to their countries which is the highest revenue the american goverment has. Income Tax? they do pay it but they dont know about it because the LEGAL American owners of those companies do deduct taxes from their paycheck in order to not get in trouble with the IRS and get more deductions. That is the American Double Standard. companies hire illegals to get cheap labor but when they get caught, they say they didnt know they were illegal. Get “Legals” to build your house and pick up fruit and landscape and nobody will be able to afford the price. Happy 5 de Mayo fools!