Senate Passes Racist Immigration Bill
by Stephen Lendman
On June 27, S. 744: Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (BSEOIMA) passed. House members address it next.
On June 28, The New York Times headlined “Senate, 68 to 32, Passes Overhaul for Immigration,” saying:
Senators approved “the most significant overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws in a generation with broad support generated by a sense among leading Republicans that the party needed to join with Democrats to remove a wedge between Republicans and Hispanic voters.”
An accompanying editorial headlined “Immigration Reform, Finally,” saying:
Senators “approved the most ambitious overhaul of the nation’s immigration system in a generation.”
House passage remains uncertain. Times editors admitted what passed isn’t perfect “or even ideal.” They endorsed what demands condemnation.
They said it starts an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants down “a path to citizenshipâ€¦.It offers them a chance to live, work and travel without” fearing arrest and deportation.
It “makes possible an outpouring of energy and hope such as this nation has never seen. (It offers) sensible reforms. (There’s) a strong chance (this) bill could” be enacted, they believe. It demands rejection, not passage.
America’s racist war on immigrants is longstanding. It mocks high-minded rhetoric claiming otherwise. Nothing positive occurred for years.
Nothing’s planned now. Congressional profiles in courage don’t exist. Obama’s beholden solely to Wall Street, war profiteers, other corporate favorites and rich elites.
He betrayed ordinary Americans throughout his tenure. From January 2009 – January 2012, he deported a record 1.5 million people. In the fiscal year ending last September 30, he deported 409,849.
Throughout his tenure, he’s done so irresponsibly. He punished defenseless immigrants deserving better. Many were accused of crimes they didn’t commit.
Others committed misdemeanors too minor to matter. Traffic violations got some immigrants deported. Families were separated. Children were harmed. Sweep arrests lawlessly included US citizens.
Harshness inflicts punishment indiscriminately. It does so irresponsibly. Obama deported more immigrants than any previous US president in four years. Bush deported two million in eight years.
In 2014 or sooner, Obama will easily surpass him. He’ll do it whether or not current legislation’s enacted. His monthly deportations maintain a record pace.
Since 2004, Border Patrol staff more than doubled. Numbers are ninefold greater than 30 years ago. Over 21,000 agents guard US borders. Nearly 90% are deployed in states bordering Mexico.
Plans call for thousands more. Untold additional billions will be spent. Migrants won’t be deterred from coming. Doing so will entail greater hazards. Remote crossings will be chosen. More people will die. Others will be lucky to survive.
If apprehended, imprisonment from one to 30 years will follow. Prior criminal and immigration history will determine sentences.
Intensified militarization along Mexico’s border is prioritized. Adding another 350 miles of security fencing is called for. Doing so will double what original legislation proposed.
Drone surveillance is funded. Harsher crackdowns are certain. Provisions require intensified Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) sweeps. Massive deportations will follow. Current intolerable conditions will worsen.
Nine states issue driver’s licenses to immigrants. Current legislation may deprive them. It requires REAL ID Act compliance.
It establishes federal standards for state-issued licenses as well as non-driver ID cards. It changes visa limits for temporary workers, nurses and Australian citizens.
It includes rules for “delivery bonds.” It’s for aliens pending hearings. It’s similar to bail bonds.
It tightens asylum application laws and deporting foreigners for alleged “terrorism.” It waives laws restricting border barrier construction.
Many states haven’t approved REAL ID. Non-compliance forces most residents to have passports solely to work. Doing so may incentivize states to restrict driver’s licenses. Immigrants needing them will lose out.
So-called pathway to citizenship could take 13 years or longer. Many or most immigrants won’t likely qualify. Those trying must apply for “registered provisional immigrant (RPI)” status.
It’s a new legal classification. It’s created six months after legislative enactment. It’s contingent on border security requirements in place.
“Comprehensive immigration reform” is a figure of speech. Reality suggests otherwise. RPI status involves overcoming enormous hurdles. Many immigrants won’t try. Many more will fail.
Qualifying involves proving continuous US presence since December 2011, a $500 fine, and payment of back taxes. Minor misdemeanors, youthful indiscretions, other inconsequential convictions, and more substantive ones may disqualify applicants.
Anyone Department of Homeland Security calls unacceptable won’t make it. RPI’s status excludes healthcare and welfare benefits. Rights granted are too limited to matter.
RPI qualifiers are considered second class. As citizens they’ll fare no better. After 10 years of provisional status, they can seek green card and permanent resident status.
Doing so requires proof back taxes were paid. An additional $1,000 fine is incurred. Continuous residency since December 2011 must be verified. Doing so means avoiding unemployment.
It means enduring harsh conditions. It means low pay with few or no benefits. It means serfdom, not legitimate employment.
English must be learned. Employment must be proved. Meeting these requirements doesn’t assure citizenship.
Employer E-Verify is mandatory. So is biometrically tracking foreigners who enter and leave America by land, sea or air. Implementation’s required in four years. It’s a government-run online system. It enforces draconian harshness.
It uses photo IDs. It compares employee information to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Social Security data. Numerous false alarms are triggered. Millions of legal immigrants are falsely targeted.
Millions of family members of legal US residents await permanent residency status.
Undocumented immigrants will be forced to the back of the line. US citizens trying to bring unmarried Mexican children to America requires waiting 17 years or longer. Most never succeed.
Current immigration law caps employment-based visas at 140,000 a year. They’re based on five preferential skill categories.
Current legislation increases visa eligibility in ones business wants. Numbers will rise or fall depending on needs.
Current high unemployment is longterm. Obama’s done little to reduce it. Likely harder times ahead will increase it. Immigrants and citizens will lose out.
BSEOIMA is hard-right, pro-business, anti-labor, anti-immigration fairness. House Republicans want it hardened. Whatever final legislation emerges, expect anti-immigrant toughness featured.
Current legislation prioritizes militarizing America’s border with Mexico more intensively. It gives business access to skill areas it seeks. It lets them do so at bare bones wages.
It’s about attracting high-skill workers at less than citizens now earn. It intensifies America’s race to the bottom. It further destroys opportunities for a generations of youths.
It makes higher education less meaningful. It mocks democratic fairness. It’s more evidence of America’s true face. It’s not the same country older generations grew up in.
It’s not the land of the free and home of the brave. It never was. It’s not now. More than ever, it’s exploitive, repressive, unfair and unjust.
America’s criminal class is bipartisan. They betray ordinary constituents. They do so consistently. They do it with disturbing regularity. They do so unapologetically. They mock legitimate democracy in the process.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.