A Two-Pronged Approach: More Workplace Enforcement and a Better Life for Immigrants

There is no question that the immigration system needs to be fixed, and the comprehensive immigration reform passed by the Senate after months of negotiations and by a bipartisan vote was a monumental step forward. To repair what’s broken, we faced national security and economic challenges in a way that is consistent with our values and with the great American dream. Better border control and better treatment of immigrants are not inconsistent with these principles, and both are necessary for success.

The immigration legislation we passed in the Senate addresses these issues together. We’ve tried enforcement alone in the past, and it has failed. In the past 10 years, the federal government has spent more than $20 billion to triple the number of border patrol agents, build fences, and adopt other border enforcement measures. Yet, none of our efforts has been adequate. Illegal immigration continues to thrive. Our legislation strengthens our security through stricter worksite enforcement, tamper-proof immigration cards, and high-tech border controls. Yet, the only realistic way for us to know who is here and who is coming here is to combine strict enforcement with realistic reforms to fix the broken system.

Our legislation also protects American jobs and wages by bringing immigrants out of the shadows and requiring employers to pay fair American wages. Today, many sectors of our economy rely heavily on the hard work and contributions of immigrants. Their work is indispensable to the continued growth of the American economy, and our dependence on immigrants will be even greater in the years to come. But millions of these workers are here illegally. They live in constant fear of deportation, and are easy targets for exploitation by unscrupulous employers. They are forced to accept substandard wages and shameful working conditions, which in turn, makes it even harder for American workers to thrive. Our legalization program will enable decent men and women who work hard and play by the rules to earn the privilege of American citizenship. We can be both a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. Our goals are clear: to bring immigrants out of the shadows, shut down the black markets, and restore the rule of law at our borders, in our workplaces, and in our communities.

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By providing an adequate flow of legal workers and implementing strict new workplace enforcement provisions, our bill will greatly reduce unfair competition and downward pressure on American wages. Temporary workers and newly-legalized immigrants will be able to labor with dignity and bargain for wages and benefits under the full protection of our laws, making life better for them and for U.S. workers alike. Our plan offers a realistic alternative, not an amnesty. There is no free pass, no automatic pardon, no jump to the front of the line. But we do provide a sensible plan to encourage people to come forward to receive work permits and earn legal status. They will have to pay a substantial fine and go through rigorous security and criminal background checks. Those who want permanent status must pay all their back taxes, learn English, maintain a strong work record, stay out of trouble, and wait their turn.

The legislation we’ve passed combines increased enforcement and increased legality. Better border control and better treatment of immigrants are not inconsistent – they are two sides of the same coin, and neither can be accomplished in isolation. This is the most far-reaching immigration reform in our history. It is a comprehensive and realistic attempt to solve fundamental problems that have plagued our immigration system for far too long.

Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) is the highest-ranking Democrat on the Health-Education-Labor-Pensions committee, and the highest-ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee's immigration subcommittee. He was elected in 1962 to finish the final two years of his brother's senate term and has now served 43 years. A Harvard graduate, he served in the U.S. Army from 1951-1953.

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14 Comments on “A Two-Pronged Approach: More Workplace Enforcement and a Better Life for Immigrants

  1. Okay, Illegal is illegal, but I guess I don’t understand the double standard stance and Rhetoric being displayed.

    In America, there is something Called Statute of Limitations – so if a person commits a crime and the statute of limitations run out then one cannot be prosecuted.

    So, then, if we have really upstanding people living in America – yes they came here illegaly, yes they broke the law, but they have been here for over 5 years..
    They are setting examples of exemplary behavior, they are helping to bring strong Production and are an asset to the American Community, then why cannot the same fair Standards Apply to them?

  2. Edward Kennedy. No comment.

    Anybody who jumps a fence is automatically not an immigrant but a trespasser. They are not immigrants, by any stretch of the imagination, and no ammount of painting elaborate and emotional metaphors and pastoral lanscsapes changes that. I would like to have immigrants who I welcome, wouldnt we all? Ones who have respect for the country they want to get into by following their laws.

    Immigration. That’s when you stand in line. A line is when there are other people just as important as you, all wanting the same thing, and it takes some time if it’s worth it. My grandfather in old europe used to stand in line in the morning, and by early afternoon he would get to the front of the line, only then finding out what they were selling, and then he would take his hat off and fit as many pickles in there as he could. A line. Just like at the DMV when it’s registration or license time. I’d love to jump *that* line, especially during the lunchtime rush….

    Or, maybe… Since we spent billions of dollars and it didnt work, we should just get Enya to since some soothing songs, and we’ll all hold hands and tear down the borders… no? Isnt this what Vinnie Fox wants?

    And really, since when has something failing in spite of throwing a $bil or $ten bil at it unusual? cough *education* cough.

  3. A lively debate on the ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION topic preceded the Kennedy/First tripe. See ERE link to Kevin Wheelers Article ?The OFCCP Requirements and What They Really Mean for You?. The link is: http://www.erexchange.com/articles/db/6FEB330A74C449478A810FDB53467472.asp

    POSTINGS INCLUDE:

    – ?Light Reading? by yours truly, in a clever transition from OFCCP to illegal immigration employment and a fact based accounting of some of the consequences.

    MISSIVES BY BOTH THE ?LEFT? and ?RIGHT? THAT SUPPORT CLOSING THE BORDER…

    – Hospital To The World Welcomes Illegals & Contagious Diseases, by renowned Dr. Madeleine Cosman, Ph.D., ESQ, April 25, 2005 [fully annotated with 61 footnotes]

    – An Ugly Reality, By Thomas Sowell, Apr 18, 2006 [A Black Intellectual Columnist Looks At The Immigration Issue]

    – What Bush Fails To See At The Border, By Ronald F. Maxwell, Washington Times Columnist, April 6, 2006 ? [THIS MISSIVE IS A STUNNER ! ]

    AND A WHOLE LOT OF OPINIONS?

  4. What is most interesting about both sides of the aisle as they pontificate and debate ‘this most important issue of immigration’ is that ‘it ain’t about immigration.’ It is about getting a bill passed; any bill will do, so long as their party owns the bill and its absolute purpose which is incrementalism toward further dependency upon the federal government. We already have laws that address immigration. I for one, do not believe they are impossible to enforce. The whole discussion is moot, even though the laws have been ignored and has led to the mess we now have to deal with. Does this call for abandoning the system that served legal and hard-working immigrants well over so many years and fashioning a hybrid solution? It’s like saying well, people are going to rob banks no matter what we do, so let’s just forgive their crime and register them, because they really needed the money anyway. They were only trying to make a living, right?

  5. For any who think they understand the agenda of those coming from the south just read their own words:

    The California State University, M.E.Ch.A.’S Chapters web site (one of the tamer open border organizations ?and that ain?t say-n much) would like you to understand their agenda.

    I?ve summarized it for you, but the full text can be viewed at: http://public.csusm.edu/student_orgs/mecha/ [click on ?About? and then ?What is MEChA??]

    HISTORICAL FOUNDATION:

    The fundamental principles that led to the founding of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztl?n are found in El Plan de Santa Barbara (EPDSB). The Manifesto of EPDSB sees self-determination for the Chicana and Chicano Chicano and Chicana Movement in El Plan Espiritual de Aztl?n (EPEDA). A synopsis of El Plan stipulates:

    1) We are Chicanos and Chicanas of Aztl?n reclaiming the land of out birth (Chicano and Chicana Nation);

    2) Aztl?n belongs to indigenous people, who are sovereign and not subject to a foreign culture;

    3) We are a union of free pueblos forming a bronze nation;

    4) Chicano and Chicana nationalism, as the key in mobilization and organization, is the common denominator to bring consensus to the Chicano and Chicana Movement;

    5) Cultural values strengthen our identity as La Familia de La Raza; and

    6) EPEDA, as a basic plan of Chicano and Chicana liberation, sought the formation of an independent national political party that would represent the sentiments of the Chicano and Chicana community.

    THEIR AGENDA SEEMS CLEAR TO ME…LETS ANALYZE IT?

    ?The fundamental principles? INCLUDE ?Manifesto of self-determination?reclaiming the land of out birth?Aztl?n [READ THE U.S.] belongs to indigenous people?who are sovereign?not subject to a foreign culture?a union of free pueblos?forming a bronze nation?Chicano and Chicana nationalism, as the key in mobilization?Cultural values strengthen our identity as La Familia de La Raza [NOT AMERICAN]?a basic plan of Chicano and Chicana liberation?

    WOW !

    I didn?t see any mention of a pledge to PROTECT and DEFEND the UNITED STATES, against all enemies both FORIGN AND DOMESTIC, ETC. ETC. ETC. ? hum?

    WELL YOU GET THE PICTURE !

    Does any of this sound like they want to blend in? Sounds more like Balkanization than melting pot. In fact it’s absolutely clear that their interest in U.S. citizenship, is tied ONLY to the desire to wander freely from NATION STATE to NATION STATE, with no concern for SOVERIGN BORDERS — NONE !

    WERE THEY [ORIGINALLY] NATIVES OF THIS AREA?

    The ancestors of these self described Chicano and Chicana weren?t here when the U.S. acquired the lands of the S.W. United States. The facts are that there were only about 10,000 Mexicans in this territory at the time, and nearly all of them immediately naturalized to become proud U.S. citizens.

    A PLAN FOR INDEFINATE CHEEP LABOR

    Under current conditions and trends (if not mitigated), projections by the U.S. government [best case] analysis, conclude that by mid century the U.S. population will be above 500 million and by the end of the century surpass a billion; where a large percentage will be part of a permanent underclass. Think China, India, Bangladesh, etc?

    BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU ASK FOR…

    It?s all fine and good to be a humanist and idealist, but we have to deal with reality. And the reality is that if our politicians and business leaders continue on the present course, America?s middle class will continue to disappear at a rapidly increasing rate. I say ?continue to disappear?, because there?s clear evidence that it?s already well underway. Illegal immigration into the U.S., just as has happened in France, England and Germany is creating a permanent underclass. This isn?t mere speculation. So, I simply ask every native born or naturalized citizen, ?what do they want for their children??

    BRAIN SURGERY: ONLY FOR US SENATORS…

    As for stopping illegal immigration, the solution to that is really rather simple. Enforce existing 1986 laws by going after employers that violate them.

    When the penalties become to steep, and jobs start going to only those authorized to work in the U.S., the immigration stream will dry up. No one will be ’86d’ because there will be no one to deport. The ephemeral seasonal stream for labor or any other real needs can be handled with proper documentation (like Mexico does. The Mexican military guards their southern border quite effectively. For any who think otherwise, just amble across the border on a leisurely stroll, take your family with you for a picnic; and when you all get out of prison, check back into ERE with an up date on how the visit went.

    HE GOT IN LINE…

    As Dave (originally from Brittan), one of the guys who like me, walks his dog in our local park said one morning??I waited in line??

  6. Wow!!!

    Maybe it is just my own cynical self, but I can’t seem to get my feeble mind around the notion that some of the *alleged* ethics watchdogs who cry foul at the mention of any type of ‘ruse’ or ‘poaching’, or any of the other derogatory terms they like to use for recruiting, don’t seem to have a problem with people breaking the laws of the land.

    Presumably it is acceptable for someone to circumvent the established laws of our country to better their lives, but heaven forbid if I call into a company under some bogus pretext to collect the names of people I need to recruit, on the chance that they might also be able to better their lives?

    Perhaps some of you could enlighten me on where exactly I missed the logic train?

  7. I posted this article, from the public domain, with attribution, to the forum, but it had been removed for some unknown reason.

    Since, hosting articles from just Kennedy and Frist hardly offers a representative view of this issue, I offer the views of Cornyn for a little balance to the debate — another view.

    To read it, link to the the May 2006 Yale Law Journal (The Pocket Part),

    http://www.thepocketpart.org/2006/05/cornyn.html.

  8. Sorry, as I would rather discuss things directly recruiting related, but couldn’t resist this one.

    Statue of Limitations? Illegal aliens are still illegal – even if they came 5 years ago. The criminal act (and yes – entering our country without going through the proper process is a crime) didn’t occur 5 years ago, it occurred every day they were here. Therefore, the illegal act has not expired. Either we have laws that should be enforced or we do not. In fact, if you think about it – someone that stays 10 years illegally has probably committed a ‘worse’ crime than someone who jumped the fence yesterday – ie. they ignored the law longer.

  9. This immigration thing is getting pretty heated and I have to put my two cents (or dos pesos ) in on this thing. There are only a few questions that should be asked of an alien to determine if they stay or return to whence they came.

    1. How did you make those crop circles without anyone seeing you? That is so cool that you have to let them stay if they will give you the answer.

    2. Did you know Superman when he was a baby? He’s an alien too, you know.

    3. How about the Coneheads? Can you speak French? Do you consume mass quantities?

    Welcome to the planet, ‘mano.

  10. Brian (Brian Thiemann),
    I respect that question, and will answer as fairly as possible.

    My stance on ethics is in regards to protection of others.. People, Places and things.. it is about prescribing to the Common Welfare of Economy and the People.

    Social Democracy is a great word to describe what I am about. Kinda like the First Lines in the Constitution – We the People, For the People, By the People. It is about being as honest in your business dealings as well as in your personal!

    Brian, as a person who came to america 17 Years ago, I came legally, through a husband and 3 American children. I gained my legal status in America the ‘normal’ way.
    In all honestly I am on the fence with this topic, and had some strong feelings similar to Brandon’s for some time.

    But that Changed quite a bit recently – through some discussions with real people, who were american citizens though their parents were not, I was able to gain some insight. In doing some further research came to the realization that there are some Very Positve aspects to granting Citizenship to the illegal immigrants. Wont go into it here, but one can find it on the post that Brandon Mentioned.

    Anyways, Brian, there seems to be a lot of misunderstanding as many believe that these individuals will be granted their Citizenship Automatically. Given to them on a silver platter.

    That is NOT the case. The Way that Amnesty programs work is very similar to the legal process for individuals acquiring their Citizenship from the beginning the Normal Way.
    Not to mention that they will also have to pay a fine for being here illegaly. Will they pay to go through the Process. You Bet! To be able to have more earning power, better benefits, and more legal status, yes, they will definitely find a way to pay the fine to become Legal.

    What People don’t seem to understand is that These individuals will have to apply for the status of a Temporary Green Card, that means that they will have a thorough background Check to prove that they had been living in America legally, and had been upstanding individuals for at least the past 5 years…

    they will then have to apply for Full Green Cards (permenent Residents) – they must hold the Permanent Resident Status for at least 3-6 Years before they can apply for citizenship.

    In all processes there will be background checks, waiting in lines, and going throught the whole system from beginning to end. Only the individuals who have been an asset and obeyed the laws of this country will be able to prove that they deserve to be able to Start and continue the process.

    They must have had gainful employment, presented themselves as ethical and upstanding individuals.. These are the ones who will gain this privilige. Not the Crazy’s that Brandon tends to keep mentioning over and over again.

    Brian, We hear about an upcomming shortage in talent in several industries; Well there are many individuals who are here illegaly that are actually trained/educated professionals in the countries they come from.. and this will open the doors for them to work in those fields.

    The illegal immigrants do bring a tremendous amount of money to the American Economy. They buy products, food, clothes, pay rent; They provide manpower, and yes many even pay taxes.

    Brian, it took a while for me to be able to be more empathetic about this subject. It really helped by hearing other stories.

    I am more receptive Because of the Actual positive affect this can Have on the American Economy and for the individuals themselves..

    Again Social Democracy.

  11. Deborah;
    Yeah and they have been robbing banks for over 5 years and paying their taxes, so the statute of limitations applies and they shouldnt be held accountable for their illegality.

    Right!

  12. Up to 1986 the annual line for legal immigration [is there any other kind] was about 60,000 individuals.

    Now the legal line is 1,000,000 annually. Those who jump the border add another 3,000,000.

    It’s impossible for any economy to perpetually assimilate that many people. It’s impossible.

    The strain on the infrastructure, natural resources, social resources, financial resources, law enforcement, education system…just to name a few of the challenges

    So, what?s the level and rate of immigration where the host culture doesn?t break down?

    Is it a half million, or a million?

    At a half million we?d be adding the equivalent of one Tucson every year.

    At about a million we?d be adding the equivalent of one Dallas every year.

    But at the current rate of 4 million [legal + illegal] the U.S. is adding one Los Angeles every year. And I mean that quite literally as well. One Los Angeles every year filled with unassimilated immigrants.

    Tell me that?s good community and social planning?

  13. Here?s what Hugo Rafael Ch?vez Fr?as, Constitutional President of The Bolivarian Republic Of Venezuela had to say about Social Democracy at the 6th World Social Forum ? for the People?s Anti-Imperialist Struggle ? Americas.

    As a footnote, the good President welcomed Cindy Sheehan, to whom he said ?for you a kiss?, and then went on with his speech that includes:

    ?.. in this century we will burry the U.S. empire. Be sure of it!.. I want to insist that there are reasons that we are optimistic, there are reasons, things are happening that five years ago could not have happened, including a movement on the rise within the U.S. that every day gains strength, conscience and unity. ?

    http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/print.php?artno=1720

  14. GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTING OFFICE
    Illegal Aliens Arrested in the United States
    May 9, 2005
    http://www.gao.gov/htext/d05646r.html

    ? Population study of 55,322 illegal aliens
    ? Arrested a total of 459,614 times
    ? Averaging about 8 arrests per illegal alien.
    ? Nearly all had more than 1 arrest
    ? Thirty-eight percent (about 21,000) had between 2 and 5 arrests
    ? Thirty-two percent (about 18,000) had between 6 and 10 arrests
    ? Twenty-six percent (about 15,000) had 11 or more arrests.
    ? Most of the arrests occurred after 1990
    ? They were arrested for a total of about 700,000 criminal offenses
    ? Averaging about 13 offenses per illegal alien.
    ? One arrest incident may include multiple offenses, a fact that explains why there are nearly one and half times more offenses than arrests.
    ? Almost all of these illegal aliens were arrested for more than 1 offense.
    ? Slightly more than half of the 55,322 illegal aliens had between 2 and 10 offenses.
    ? About 45 percent of all offenses were drug or immigration offenses
    ? About 15 percent were property-related offenses such as burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and property damage.
    ? About 12 percent were for violent offenses such as murder, robbery, assault, and sex-related crimes.
    ? The balance was for such other offenses as traffic violations, including driving under the influence; fraud–including forgery and counterfeiting; weapons violations; and obstruction of justice.
    ? Eighty percent of all arrests occurred in three states–California, Texas, and Arizona.
    ? Specifically, about 58 percent of all arrests occurred in California, 14 percent in Texas, and 8 percent in Arizona.

    Ok, 12% of 700,000 = 84,000 offenses for murder, robbery, assault, and sex-related crimes by 55,322 illegal aliens.

    LET?S CLOSE THE BORDER, AND INVITE ONLY GOOD ALIENS?LEGALLY — BEFORE MORE REAL PEOPLE ARE MURDERED, ROBBED, ASSULTED OR RAPED!

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