21 May 2007 Black Activists Urge Caution on Immigration Compromise
Black activists with the Project 21 leadership network are skeptical of the just-announced compromise legislation on immigration reform brokered between senators and the Bush Administration.
“This debate should not be about civil rights. It should be about law and order,” said Project 21 member Geoffrey Moore. “Politicians buckling to special interests while disregarding the will of the citizens they were elected to represent is very disturbing.”
The 380-page compromise legislation to overhaul American immigration law and border control was announced on May 17 and will begin debate in the Senate as early as May 21. A Senate vote could occur within a week of the start of the debate. The House of Representatives is expected to consider similar legislation in July.
As announced, the compromise will grant at least temporary legal status to all illegal aliens currently residing in the United States. This amnesty will reportedly be contingent upon them paying fines and processing fees and providing a clean work and criminal record. Those who qualify would be granted an indefinitely-renewable work visa. New immigrant visas would be less contingent on family ties and focus more on work skills. All reform is also supposed to be tied to the implementation of new border security measures that include more enforcement personnel and equipment.
The compromise has already drawn politically-diverse criticism. Labor leaders oppose the two-year non-renewable visa, saying it would hurt wages. Conservatives oppose the amnesty provisions as unfair. Even some illegal aliens oppose the compromise, saying it is too expensive and won’t allow them to bring in their families.
Jose Monson, an illegal alien from Guatemala now living in Los Angeles, told the Associated Press: “If I’ll never be able to bring my family, why should I apply [for an amnesty visa]? I prefer to just stay here illegally… If I get deported and need to cross the border again, that’s not a problem.”
In defense of the compromise’s perceived shortcomings, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) told The Washington Post, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”
“After many years of ignoring this problem, it’s going to take many years to resolve,” said Project 21 fellow Deneen Borelli. “There is no quick and easy solution for immigration, which is a complicated matter on many levels. This bill in particular falls short of addressing core concerns.”
Project 21 member Jimmie Hollis added: “With the short timetable the Senate has created, one should be concerned because it is virtually being rushed through in the dead of night. Also, giving special rights to people here illegally over those who have chosen the legal route is a bad move. If it becomes law, I fear it will only heighten racial tensions.”
Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or [email protected], or visit Project 21’s website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html.