Electoral Strategy Criticized
From El Diario
January 9, 2004
By Ana Ledo
The temporary work permit program proposed yesterday by President
George W. Bush as a reform to the United States immigration system
will create confusion among immigrants, and will not give undocumented
immigrants what they fought for permanent resident status [green
card], said advocates for immigrant rights.
"This is a program with no solution and will give way to easier
deportation. This is not an answer to the problem in the immigration
system of this nation. This is the election year and the Latinos
are not going to be won over," said Margaret McHugh, executive
director of the New York Immigration Coalition, an umbrella group
which consists of 150 organizations.
Like McHugh, representatives
of the Latino community such as Moisés
Pérez, director of the Dominican Alliance, Guillerno Chacón
with the National Network of American Salvadorians, and Vincente
Mayorga, representative of the United Front of Immigrant Ecuadorians,
said that the president's proposal only tells immigrants that they
are welcome in the United States to work and pay taxes, but then
they will have to march right back to their country of origin.
the new plan, foreign workers and undocumented immigrants will
receive a three-year work permit that can be renewed once.
Participants can also leave and re-enter into the country as
if they were legal residents. But employers must prove that no
workers can fill the jobs.
Mayorga said that he prefers to remain
undocumented, rather than to facilitate deportation for just six
years by registering in
the program. The Ecuadorian said that the difficulty of being separated
from your family for 10 years and the desire to see them again
is what complicates a residency.
"I have suffered the exploitation and the abuses myself.
The drama of undocumented immigrants is great and we want a solution
from the Congress – permanent
residency," said Mayorga.
The activists indicated that the proposed plan
is "inhumane" because
it does not value the immigrants as anything more than just labor.
"It also doesn't resolve the problems that face the
undocumented workers, like the Latinos, who suffer in most cases
of labor exploitation, low salaries,
and lack of medical insurance or benefits," said Pérez.
the press conference, Chacón expressed his worry over the confusion
that this proposition could cause among immigrant communities saying
that this is "an empty piñata" that creates expectations,
bring permanent residence. He also called the President's plan an electoral
On the other hand, the director of the Center for Latino Workers,
Santana, supports the Bush initiative, saying that it is the start
of a process of legalization that guarantees immigrants who live in "clandestine" circumstances
in the United States the right to be documented.
"No other proposal
that concerns us guarantees that a person will be a resident in less
time. This program gives the possibility of working
by entering into
a system that will guarantee residency in the end," said Santana.
She said that the Bush proposition is along the lines of the McCain-Kolbe-Flake
last year to Congress, which would secure the borders and improve the
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Translated from Spanish by Charlotte