We were pleased that the Basic Legislative Pillars of the original proposal remained fundamentally intact through the markup process of the Judiciary Committee. The pillars are: Path to Citizenship, Border Security, an Improved Legal Immigration System, an effective Employment Verification System, an improved Process for Agricultural and Low-skilled Workers and Protection of Workers’ Rights.
The bill went then to the floor and the U.S. Senate passed S.744, by a strong bipartisan vote of 68-32 on June 27.
Unfortunately, once on the floor, the Corker-Hoeven amendment replaced the original bill: this satisfied those Senators who felt that the original bill did not go far enough on border enforcement. Immigration experts consider the amendment bad policy. Nevertheless, the amendment provided the needed Senate’s votes.
Most Southern Arizona humanitarian organizations, caring for immigrants, who were among the most enthusiastic supporters of Comprehensive Immigration Reform, withdrew their support of S.744 when the Corker-Hoeven amendment replaced the original bill.
Many Catholic organizations are also ambivalent about S.744. These are some sentences from the statement assessing S.744 issued by the U.S. Jesuits, who are deeply involved with border issues and with assisting deportees:
“Most disappointing are the provisions introduced by Senators Corker and Hoeven that dramatically militarize our border with Mexico at an estimated cost of 46billion dollars. These provisions double the number of Border Patrol agents and provide warfare technology for non-military operations by introducing drones, infrared sensors, and 140 million dollars’ worth of Blackhawk helicopters into civilian border communities. All of this will be implemented despite serious transparency and accountability failures by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and despite unprecedented growth in the immigration enforcement apparatus over the last decade. We must express our deep concern about the impacts these policies will have on the civil rights of border residents, the humane treatment of migrants, and the natural environment at the southern border.
Despite the negative impact, this legislation will have on our southern border we welcome the positive provisions in S.744. Many of our undocumented brothers and sisters will qualify for citizenship. The DREAM Act included in S.744 is the strongest version of that legislation to date. Agricultural and guest workers, abused and neglected for so long, will gain important workplace protections. Other positive aspects of the final Bill include language deterring racial profiling in immigration apprehensions, the clarification and publication of Border Patrol use of force policies, limitations on immigration raids at churches, schools, and hospitals, and constraints on deportation practices.”
The following link leads to a very informative chart by the National Immigration Law Center “The Senate Immigration Reform Bill (S. 744): What’s Good, What’s Not”: http://nilc.org/document.html?id=935
The future of Immigration Reform now depends on the House. Speaker John A. Boehner stated that the House would not take up the Senate bill. They will produce their own bill and only if a majority of Republicans will back it.
The House is not known for creative solutions on Immigration. They do not have yet a bill that would provide a path to citizenship for the 11 million unauthorized immigrants and they seem to continue to focus on immigration enforcement. Members of the House need to realize that times have changed and that the Latino population has gained strength and political power.
Besides Latinos, the faith based, civil rights and humanitarian groups, which have been traditionally in favor of Immigration Reform, have now been joined by many others organizations, including business and technology industry groups, labor unions, agricultural growers, farmworkers, law enforcement, educators, etc.
A NOTE BY DAN TORRINGTON (Tucson Diocesan Council President)
As I write, SVdP members are assisting two undocumented Hispanic men who are the sole care providers for five young children. This “family” lives in a dilapidated two-room trailer in Tucson with no cooling in 110-degree weather. Today, July 4, SVdP members are installing a cooler and supplying needed food, clothing and other assistance.
Imagine how difficult it is for two indigent men to meet the needs of five children that are not theirs. These men are “men” in the fullest sense of the word. Their thoughts and actions are not for themselves but for the homeless children that the Providence has placed in their care. They are the type of men that gave of themselves at Bunker Hill so that future generations could have a better life.
Like the two men, the Providence has entrusted undocumented immigrants to our care. Let us encourage our elected representatives to promptly pass compassionate immigration legislation. As a nation, lets us extend a hand to those in need of our assistance.
Please be ready to write to your House Representative! We want to see Comprehensive Immigration Reform become a reality! Look for our updates.