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Two immigration must reads so far today:  One was today’s Washington Post Metro section front page look at law students aiding in immigration law clinics.  With so much deportation going on and with so many obstacles to legal immigration and staying legal, it’s all hands on deck.  

The second was the lead story in Sunday’s New York Times by Julia Preston on how the business community is starting to stir to put pressure on GOP lawmakers about immigration.  Employers trying to play by the rules are being tarred with the same brush as bottom-feeding employers who exploit the illegal status of workers.  Until we find ways of allowing for sufficient legal immigration, many small business owners are suffering.

Two immigration must reads so far today:  One was today’s Washington Post Metro section front page look at law students aiding in immigration law clinics.  With so much deportation going on and with so many obstacles to legal immigration and staying legal, it’s all hands on deck.  

The second was the lead story in Sunday’s New York Times by Julia Preston on how the business community is starting to stir to put pressure on GOP lawmakers about immigration.  Employers trying to play by the rules are being tarred with the same brush as bottom-feeding employers who exploit the illegal status of workers.  Until we find ways of allowing for sufficient legal immigration, many small business owners are suffering.

The Post story looks at how much need there is for legal counsel in immigration-related matters.

But there is a growing realization, students and professors said, that policies on issues such as asylum and due process are evolving as never before, particularly since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. A growing immigrant population also means that legal status often complicates what might have once been simple criminal or labor cases.

"It's not just that people think immigration is important, but they're seeing that it affects everything," said Hiroshi Motomura, an immigration law professor who will join UCLA in the fall.  – Karin Brulliard, "Law Students Rush to Meet Needs In Booming Field of Immigration," Washington Post, July 7, 2008

The Times story looks at how at the state and local level, businesses are uniting to keep up the pressure for immigration reform and beat back harmful initiatives aimed at immigrants – which are having a tremendous impact on the economy and business environment.

The offensive by businesses has been spurred by the federal enforcement crackdown, by inaction in Congress on immigration legislation and by a rush of punitive state measures last year that created a checkerboard of conflicting requirements. Many employers found themselves on the political defensive as they grappled, even in an economic downturn, with shortages of low-wage labor.

Mike Gilsdorf, the owner of a 37-year-old landscaping nursery in Littleton, Colo., saw the need for action by businesses last winter when he advertised with the Labor Department, as he does every year, for 40 seasonal workers at market-rate wages to plant, prune and carry his shrubs in the summer heat. Only one local worker responded to the notice, he said, and then did not show up for the job.

Mr. Gilsdorf was able to fill his labor force with legal immigrants from Mexico through a federal guest worker program. But that program has a tight annual cap, and Mr. Gilsdorf realized that he might not be so lucky next year. His business could fail, he said, and then even his American workers would lose their jobs.

"We’re not hiring illegals, we’re not paying under the table," Mr. Gilsdorf said. "But if we don’t get in under the cap and nobody is answering our ads, we don’t have employees." His group, Colorado Employers for Immigration Reform, is pressing Congress for a much larger and more flexible guest worker program. – Julia Preston, "Employers Fight Tough Measures on Immigration," New York Times, July 6, 2008

Littleton, Colorado?  Isn’t that where anti-legal-immigration firebrand Rep. Tom Tancredo is from?  Boy, his agenda sure is helping the local folks!!!

For more information on what the business community is facing and how they are pushing back, visit ImmigrationWorksUSA

Originally posted to ImmPolitic on Mon Jul 07, 2008 at 12:08 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The trick is (0+ / 0-)

    To put the effort behind making legal immigration much easier, as well as a guest worker program for people who truly want to be guest workers -- work a season and go home.

    If we can keep that issue separate from the illegal immigration issue there will be a lot more support for dealing with the problems.

    Once the legal immigration situation has been improved it will be time to think about the current illegal residents.  Starting with them opened an amazing can of worms.

    •  That's some trick (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      theboz, Nightprowlkitty, luckylizard

      You make it sound like the pro-immigrant side opened the "can of worms". Factually it was the nativists who opened the can followed by right wing politicians who thought it would be a useful wedge issue.

      Our immigration system is messed up for all immigrants; from families who want to be reunited, to kids who have been here most of their lives, to communities who are being broken apart, to industries who rely on immigrants with skills (regardless of their status).

      Trying to pit one group of immigrants against the other, without recognizing the human and economic issues involved, is foolishness.

      We need a complete, compassionate solution.

      •  Not going to happen (0+ / 0-)

        A complete compassionate solution is going to be seen as amnesty for the current set, with a continued broken immigration system to encourage more illegal immigration.  That's what happened under Reagan and, frankly, would probably happen again if we start with an amnesty program.  There are people who get power and money from having an under class of illegal immigrants to exploit financially or politically.

        First, make it much easier and faster to become a legal immigrant.  Reduce the pressure to break the law.  Once that is done, then it will be a lot easier to get a consensus on how to deal with the current illegal immigrants.

        •  Luckily, you are quite wrong. (0+ / 0-)

          The current set are mostly conservative politicians, thankfully they are a shrinking breed. You forget that about two thirds of Americans support a comprehensive solution that includes that right-wing buzzword "amnesty" you are throwing around.

          The Republican minority had to filibuster the immigration bill last time.

          Times are a changing. The majority of the American public will remain open to a "comprehensive" (i.e. reasonably compassionate) solution. The Congress is about to get much more reasonable.

          As the Diary points out, the business community has a voice, and a interest (albeit an economic one) in this issue.

        •  Wrong on Reagan (0+ / 0-)

          The Reagan amnesty in 1986, which legalized a large percentage of the undocumented -- about 3 million people -- did not cause an increase in illegal immigration.  It didn't really address illegal immigration.  They punted on the key issue of how much legal immigration to allow.  So while the trend of increasing immigration continued, the supply of legal immigration (visas) did not.

          This is the most important difference between 1986 and what has been discussed the last two years in the Senate.

          And some of the folks who got legal status through the 1986 law are only now getting citizenship -- it takes that long.

          •  That's sort of the point (0+ / 0-)

            Supposedly it was part of a comprehensive solution but they punted on the hard part -- figuring out how much legal immigration to allow.

            And, of course, there is a significant difference between legal residency status and citizenship.  It does not automatically follow, nor is it necessary.  It is desirable, though.

            There is the point that an amnesty, once passed, is a hint that it will happen again, so there was the example of the three million people who came illegally instead of working through the system and won, leaving those waiting in line to reassess the wisdom of following immigration law.  So, did it cause an increase in illegal immigration?  I think so.

            My feeling is that we should do the hard work of deciding we are a nation of immigrants and streamline the process.  However, every sector has concerns.  Certainly the idea of streamlining the process for highly educated people is not popular here.  There are simply more people in the world that want to move here than we can accomodate.  It seems that biasing the selection in terms of people willing to break the law to do so is not in our best interest.

  •  Small Business is an interesting ally. (0+ / 0-)

    Great diary.

    For me the immigration debate is about compassion and about fighting bigotry. The fact that the anti-immigrant hysteria is having an economic effect is interesting.

    Thanks for these articles.

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