This entry is dedicated to the young talented people who will once again see their dreams shattered and to the people who every day dies in the desert trying to reach a dream. It is also dedicated to the mediocre so-called pro-immigrant leaders, Hispanic or not, who are going to make easier for the xenophobic Right and the dishonest conservatives at the Left to bury the hopes and lives of so many people. The best way to begin this entry is remembering the live of Dr. Hector Perez Garcia, an extraordinary Mexican American leader who learnt how to get results in American politics even though he was even ridiculed by the ideological grandparents of these so-called leaders. In the second part I enter the letters I sent to these people offering an alternative plan. In the third part is a legislative proposal thought in the context of the strategic proposal drafted in the second part.
One of the greatest Hispanic leaders, Dr. Perez Garcia founded the GI Forum in 1948 to advocate for Mexican American veterans. In 1949 he defended the widow of a Mexican American soldier, Private Felix Longoria. She had been denied the right to bury her husband in a local Texan cemetery due to the racial origin of Private Longoria. With the help of Lyndon Johnson, Perez Garcia got to bury Longoria in the Arlington National Cemetery with military honors. Perez Garcia learned how the American system works and what the main needs of the Hispanic community were. Thus he founded new GI Forums across the country and engaged in his next fight, before the Courts, to fight segregation and to repeal the special needs requirement of Texan schools, which put Mexican American children in special needs classes on language pretenses, whether those children needed them or not. After three years, he got this goal. To succeed it was not enough to count with the legal advise of LULAC so he organized the Mexican American community to support JFK with the "Viva Kennedy" clubs and, even though he did not get the expected results from JFK, to support Johnson. From Johnson he got the support to appoint Vicente Ximenes to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in order to deal with his second goal: quality jobs for the Mexican American community. Other fights he got involved with were the poll tax, jury duty and the Bracero Program.
Nevertheless, Dr. Perez Garcia was ridiculed as "Tio Taco" by mediocre leaders of the young generation, who preferred the easy protest, the defiant march and who got no results for the Hispanic community they said to defend. These are the ideological grandparents of the so-called pro-immigrant leaders of today, who want to "put pressure" on Obama on January 21 and the pseudo-leaders who said they would make Prince Williams (Virginia) "feel the immigrant muscle" and only got Democrats and Republicans joining in unanimity to pass the Prince Williams crackdown. Sometime today an immigrant is going to die in the desert and this year many young talents are going to be wasted because some pseudo-leaders want to feel powerful and, different from Dr. Hector Perez Garcia, want to play politics in a system they are not willing to understand. The crises Obama is going to inherit are historical and, the same way FDR had to sacrifice desegregation to count with the Southern Democrats support for the New Deal, Obama could be pushed to sacrifice immigrants to count with the support of anti-immigrant politicians, whose cell inside the Democratic party has consistently been growing even before Shuler got a Democratic seat in the House in 2006.
The xenophobic Right and its growing cell at the Left could not have received a better present from these pseudo-leaders. If FIRM is successful in its attempt to destroy the already grim possibilities of immigration reform in 2009, they will have buried the hopes of immigration until, at least, 2013 due to the size of the crisis Obama has to face. Nevertheless, growing unemployment will be used as an excuse to push anti-immigrant legislation. How many more lives will have to be destroyed for these pseudo-leaders discover examples like that of Dr. Hector Perez Garcia? Would it not be better that these leaders grow up and follow Dr. Perez Garcia’s example instead of burning in the altar of their own vanity and willing ignorance the future of young people like Jennifer Miranda (Dundalk High School graduate) or Mary Yanik and Victoria Cortez (both from the University of Maryland) and many other talented youngsters who will lose once again the fair chance of a Dream Act?
The next sections are as follow:
I. My letters to Walter Tejada and the main leaders of FIRM. I could never get the opportunity to discuss an alternative plan with them. I never got a positive answer or any interest from any of these persons.
II. The plan I offered them, which is the same plan I wanted to offer some Hispanic leaders I met while volunteering for Obama in Virginia (and from whom I got no positive answer).
III. A legislative proposal which makes sense at the light of the strategy draft offered in II. It is a slightly adjusted version of a legislative proposal I uploaded in a previous entry.
I. Letters to Walter Tejada (translation) and FIRM (actually four separate letters sent individually to each addressee). All of them were written on November 19:
Dear mister Walter Tejada:
I had the pleasure of meeting you at a Town Hall meeting in Virginia while I was performing as a volunteer for the campaign of Barack Obama. The immigration issue goes through a very critical moment because what we cannot achieve in the second semester of 2009 will not be achieved until probable 2013. Despite being an issue that, if solved with sensible reform, could take that flan from the Republican Right’s hands and cause it a terrible damage in many electoral districts if you take into account the Republican victories of Corker and Kyl in 2006 in pretty close runs in which immigration was the main issue. Nevertheless, the clumsiness with which of many Hispanic leaders have dealt with this issue and the hard to understand position of some of the so-called pro-immigrant leaders (Consider Yzaguirre in 2004 and Munoz in 2008, both of the same National Council of La Raza) have turned this issue in radioactive for the Democratic Party. It is in this context that a leader with a lucid proposal and plan could make a difference, saving thousands of lives who are daily destroyed due to the inefficiency and immorality of the current immigration system. It is needless to say that such a leader could launch his career exponentially as he would have offered results where in almost four years others offered only failure.
I attach the document "Reevaluating a strategy to make an immigration reform possible" (In English and Spanish), which contains the draft of a strategic plan, and the document "Proposal amending S. 1033 complementary to the Kennedy-McCain bill on immigration 2008", which is my legislative proposal, built on purpose on the S. 1033 of 2005 to show the necessity of introducing compatible bills.
If you agree with the proposals in the attached documents, give me an appointment to discuss them and help me to introduce justice and hope in the lives of 12 million people.
Alfredo M. Bravo de Rueda E.
President of CHISPAS
University of Florida
The New York Immigration Coalition
Fair Immigration Reform Movement
African Resource Center
Georgia Avenue Collaborative DC North Magazine
Dear Miss Torrico:
Dear Miss Hong:
Dear Misses Wells and Alvarez:
Dear Mister Kamus:
I could watch you on television as one of the organizers of the march of January 21. Let me offer you an alternative to a tactic that in almost four years has provided nothing but failure. For the sake of all those lives that depend on your leadership, let me ask you to read this letter and the attached documents to assess my proposals on its own merits.
The immigration issue goes through a very critical moment because what cannot be achieved in the second semester of 2009 will not likely be achieved until 2013. Despite this being an issue that, if solved in a sensible way, could take this flan from the hands of the Republican Right and hurt it terribly in many electoral districts if you take into account the Republican victories of Corker and Kyl in 2006 in very close races in which immigration was a key issue. Nevertheless, the turpitude with which many Hispanic leaders have dealt with this issue and the hard to understand position of some so-called pro-immigrant leaders (consider Yzaguirre in 2004 and Muñoz in 2008 from the National Council of La Raza) have made this issue radioactive for the Democratic Party. It is in this context in which a leader with a lucid proposal and a lucid plan could make a difference, saving thousands of lives that daily are destroyed due to the inefficiency and immorality of the current immigration system. It is not necessary to say that that leader could launch his political career exponentially having provided results where in almost four years others have offered nothing but failure.
I am attaching to this letter the document "Reevaluando una estrategia para hacer posible una reforma migratoria" (In English and Spanish), which contains a draft of my strategic proposal, and the document "Proposal amending S. 1033 complementary to the Kennedy-McCain bill on immigration 2008", which is my legislative proposal, built on purpose on the S. 1033 of 2005 to show the necessity of introducing complementary proposals compatible to each other.
If you agree with my proposals in the attached documents, give me an appointment in DC to discuss them and do something to help introduce justice and hope to the lives of 12 million people.
Alfredo M. Bravo de Rueda E.
II. Draft of alternative strategic plan English version]
The necessity of counting with a strategy on immigration now. Reassessing my article "The pro-immigrant movement. Necessity of having a strategy on immigration now (07-09-17)": The movement Alexander Hamilton for Immigration Reform
If immigration has had so counterproductive results in the last years it has been basically due to the great mediocrity of the Hispanic leadership at its top level. Thus, while every interest group that seriously want to achieve something from Washington has learned to use the tools of marketing, which in politics consist of fundraising, programs of volunteers and the positioning of an image, the Hispanic leaders linked to immigration have limited themselves to, instead of leading, pleasing the elements of the pro-immigrant movement who were seeking their leadership. Thus, they not only did not do what they had to do but also, eager for easy popularity, made themselves accomplices of strategies that caused much more damage than benefits. The xenophobic Right described the pro-immigrant movement as an invasion of people reluctant to learning English and with no interest for integrating to the rest of the United States. The poor Hispanic leadership promoted marches that looked like a bizarre army of occupation that moved through the streets with menacing faces, with a foreign flag and talking a language most Americans could not understand. The civil rights movement made two strikes but, in spite of the limited geographic area and of counting with a 20% of black population, after the poor results of the strike of Birmingham, Alabama, Martin Luther King had no more interest in trying a third one. Nevertheless, the self-appointed pro-immigrant leaders, not thinking it twice, launched themselves to a nationwide strike despite the illegal immigrant population was just 5% of the national population. At the local level, we have seen how these same leaders, in Prince Williams, Virginia, said that they would make the county feel the "immigrant muscle": the result was that Republicans and Democrats joined to vote for unanimity for the anti-immigrant crack down. These are just samples of measures thought more to make the marchers feel powerful than to achieve a result.
On the side of the results the scenario could not have been worse. The S. 1033 of 2005, sponsored by Kennedy and McCain, opened the immigration debate on terms that McCain made attractive to a good number of conservatives (taking the support for comprehensive immigration reform among Americans from an average of 40% to an average of 60%) but did not count with an equivalent support in the House of Representatives. Then, the marches and strikes finally buried the opportunities until 2006, when a very inferior bill, sponsored by Specter, was passed by the Senate but not the House of Representatives, showing a strategic failure which, coming from 2005, had not been corrected.
In 2007 an even more inferior bill was introduced by Kennedy and Kyl. Despite the many ticking bombs of this bill, this was labeled as amnesty by the xenophobic Right and again the so-called pro-immigrant leaders were not able of defending the bill or contributing with alternative proposals that were acceptable for the American mainstream. Despite that and that the people did not have a clear idea of the contents of the bill, the support for the bill reached 72%, which should have been enough to make law of the bill. Nevertheless, Congress had a one-week recess before the final vote. During this recess, the xenophobic Right threatened with use its resources of volunteers and fundraising to support the challengers of Senators and Congressmen who voted in favor of what they called amnesty and most of these stepped back of their commitments in favor of the Kennedy-Kyl bill. This episode showed the so-called pro-immigrant leaders’ weakness to respond to the xenophobic Right with the same weapons. But that was not all. With a Congress already with a Democratic majority, not only the Kennedy-Kyl bill fell but Agjobs and the Dream Act followed the same fate, but also the budget for immigration law enforcement at the border was increased and employers who ignored the Social Security Administration’s letter about social security numbers of their employees would face the possibility of criminal charges (This has been stopped in a Court of the Circuit).
In my last attempts to introduce some reason in these self-denominated leaders I found the same immaturity than in previous experiences. In New America’s Voice I was told that their strategy was to promote the Hispanic vote. The problem with this strategy is that a study made by the Pew Hispanic Center has shown since 2005 that where the Hispanic population and vote concentrates Senators and Congressmen do not have particularly anti-immigrant positions, different from districts where the Hispanic population is small but has been consistently growing. Furthermore, the high absenteeism of the Hispanic voter does not make him particularly attractive for a politician when the price is to become a target for the highly politically motivated xenophobic Right. A poll made by Naleo before the 2006 elections just repeats what we already know:
"The survey found that education, the economy and jobs, and the war in Iraq continue to be the top concerns for Latinos, in that order. Yet, while only 9% ranked immigration as their top concern, a majority of Latinos (51%), including half of young voters, reported that immigration was the most important or one of the most important issues in deciding their vote."
""This poll shows that attempts to use immigration as a wedge issue in this election will backfire. All of the evidence suggests that candidates’ positions on immigration will not make a difference with the vast majority of mainstream voters (see, for example, www.immigration2006.org), but will have a profound influence on whom Latinos will vote for today," stated Arturo Vargas, Executive Director of the NALEO Educational Fund."
On the other hand, the Hispanic vote Works in a very particular way with respect to the immigration issue: A candidate with pro-immigrant positions not necessarily gains the Hispanic support but a candidate with anti-immigrant positions is usually rejected by Hispanics who vote. To develop programs of volunteers and fundraising would have been much more efficient ways of promoting the political Hispanic participation on immigration.
The other naïve position I have found in my last attempts was Immigrant’s List’s, a PAC which wanted to achieve results using only fundraising as a tool but that, nevertheless, felt surprised of the candidates rejecting its money. It was natural that the candidates rejected any linkage with pro-immigrant organizations during the elections, especially if those candidates are in swing districts, which are the ones we need the most, because the image of the pro-immigrant movement is radioactive as a result of the torpid political work made by the before mentioned "leaders" and of the absence of an alternative with which the work made by Immigrant’s List could identify with.
I could put many other examples but just the above mentioned ones it is enough to have an idea of the current self-denominated pro-immigrant leadership’s absolute failure. My many attempts of convincing these persons of the necessity of change to another path have repeatedly failed in these three years. It would have been ideal to count with the tools I am going to exhibit with enough anticipation to make a difference in the 2008 elections but that has not been possible. The racial openness resulting in America as a result of the election of Barack Obama has made possible a window of opportunity which we cannot afford the luxury of losing. The recession implies a problem for 2009 as always anti-immigrant feelings grow in times of economic malaise. Nevertheless, in 2010 the mid-term elections will be added to the recession, what makes the immigration issue almost untouchable. What may happen after 2010 is going to depend on Obama’s strategy to face the grave economic crisis Obama is going to inherit from Bush so it is difficult to forecast the new scenario because this is going to depend on how deep the crisis is. This is why the least risky chance for immigration reform is in the second semester of 2009 and it must be in terms that are not radioactive for the candidates who support it, many of whom will face reelections in 2010.
As I have mentioned in my Daily Kos entries, hardly Reagan would have moved the country’s direction had not been long-term movements that redefined the terms of the debate, as it happened in the case of the religious right, which has moved decidedly towards the Republican Party since the mid 70s thanks to Robert Grant, who founds American Christian Cause in 1974 to politically organize the Religious Right, and to Jerry Falwell, who in 1979 funds Moral Majority. On the Democratic side, the long-term work has been practically absent and, as a result, Democrats have found themselves confined on the issues, election after election, to the terms of the dialogue dictated by the Republican Right. Immigration has been one of these issues. This is one of those long-term efforts to redefine the terms of the dialogue in favor of the liberal side that we are going to need if we want to give Obama the basis he needs to make of this administration a transformative movement as Reagan’s was in the 80s instead of a merely reactive administration as, despite its immense merits, was Bill Clinton’s. Nevertheless, I must remind you that Franklin Delano Roosevelt received a crisis of similar gravity from Herbert Hoover’s hands and despite being almost as anti-segregationist as his wife Eleanor, such were the challenges the New Deal had to solve, he had to sacrifice the civil rights issue to count with the Southern Democrats’ votes. Obama is a pro-immigrant candidate but we have to help him not to make the difficult election Roosevelt had to make. It is in this context in which I present the following plan:
The lessons of the past teach us that:
- We cannot afford the luxury of betting for strategies that have provided nothing but failure in the past and the window of opportunity is very small and short. If we do not create today the conditions for 2009, in 2010 the issue will be untouchable and from then on the fate of the issue is going to be uncertain in the middle term.
- The approaches to the issue cannot be partial. A right approach, like getting into fundraising as a political tool on immigration advocacy, may reach very poor results if it cannot have control over other aspects of the strategy.
- An approach seeking comprehensive reform cannot rest on an only one bill because, as the experience of these last years shows, if we are the ones interested in change and a bill of this kind cannot escape the possibility of a hard negotiation in the Conference Senate-Congress, it is an unforgivable naivety not to count with at least a conservative bill in the other Chamber that is compatible with the original bill.
- DCCC’s position got closed to the immigration issue because it was much easier to coexist with Shuler than creating Hispanic leadership on immigration. On the other hand, as Yzaguirre, from the National Council of La Raza, said in 2004 that between Bush and Kerry there were no major differences on immigration, what was evidently false, Muñoz, Yzaguirre’s successor at the head of the National Council of La Raza, said in 2008 that between McCain and Obama there were no major differences on immigration. To promise 1 million votes and then not to be able to provide, as some Hispanic leaders did, just did expose their political weakness and, in such circumstances, the alternative of writing letters to Representatives or naïve declarations have done nothing but to demonstrate little seriousness.
Nevertheless, in 2006, excellent year for Democratic Senators and Congressmen, Kyl kept his seat and Corker beat Ford with immigration as the main campaign issue. If an immigration reform happens, the damage for the Republican Right would be mortal in elections like these. Besides that, with more trustable leaders than Yzaguirre and Muñoz, a program of volunteers like DCCC’s, with volunteers that can be moved to the districts where they are going to be needed the most, and a PAC that can raise funds, a pro-immigrant movement becomes much more interesting but only as far as it can develop a more attractive image.
Our gift to the Democratic Party in exchange of its support will be to debilitate the Republican Party in 2010, taking from it the immigration flag and consolidating the sympathies the Democratic Party has achieved among Hispanic voters without alienating other groups as a result.
- Both the program of volunteers and the fundraising are just application of marketing to politics and so must go hand in hand with the positioning of the product (in our case, immigration reform) that is appealing to what we have called the mainstream. This is where the Democratic Party may contribute in a very important way, giving us a visibility that compensates our small numbers. Visibility is important because, as it magnifies our size, let us not only to communicate an alternative message appealing to the mainstream in times of recession, but also to differentiate ourselves from other pro-immigrant groups and to make our brand of immigration reform acceptable for many politicians who rejected the Immigrant’s List’s contributions and who are precisely who we need the most.
The three indispensable parts of this tripod are as follow:
- Image (positioning)
The pro-immigrant movement’s image not only has been careless but also been many times counterproductive. The most lucid elements, nevertheless, has not been able to differentiate of the less intelligent ones and so have not been seen or have been thrown in the same sack than the less intelligent. This is why it is important to do the following:
a) The movement has to identify itself with an image that precisely generates contradiction with the stereotypes of the xenophobic Right. One of the most common is to identify the pro-immigrant movement with the "Mexicans" to put the issue as a dilemma "them against us" or even to hide behind a pretended patriotism. Thus Bill Richardson did not let others to define him as the Hispanic candidate, and as Obama did not let others to define him as the black candidate, our pro-immigrant movement cannot let others to define it as a Hispanic or Mexican movement. That is why our movement should identify itself with Alexander Hamilton, the most important immigrant of our history. This Founding Father was Washington’s right arm both in the battlefield and in his two administrations, was a member of the Constitutional Assembly and, with Madison, one of the Constitution’s main commentators. Likewise, he designed our economic system and, even for those times labels he was considered a conservative, for our times parameters he was much more liberal than Jefferson. Nevertheless, Hamilton was born in the Caribbean, was poor and even an out of wedlock child who ended up joining the American Revolution. Hamilton, one of the main Founding Fathers, would not have been able to come legally to the United States with the current law.
Of course, Hamilton could not have been labeled as Mexican or with any similar adjective and represents the kind of immigrant the xenophobic Right avoids to mention because he destroys the many stereotypes it has sowed on this issue along decades.
b) To identify the movement, that I will call from now on movement Alexander Hamilton, with the activist students advocating for the Dream Act follows the same logic. They represent part of the image we need people to evoke and can be extremely useful as volunteers for persuasion if especially directed to the white sector. They are not only the living proof of the characterization of immigrants as illiterates is a false caricature but also are highly motivated by the Dream Act, included in all the serious comprehensive reform bills. It is necessary to convoke them and show them that their goals have better possibilities of being achieved under our plan than under the traditional protest.
c) To launch the movement (as far as we can guarantee the attendance of at least 300 people) we could use a march but of completely different characteristics that the traditional marches, which so much harm have caused. Our march should not be thought as a demonstration of power or as an act of catharsis but as the opportunity to present our movement as an alternative. Instead we can use successful experiences like those of the Mothers of May Plaza.
i) Thus, the march’s communication with the public is only in English both in the oral interventions and in the signs. This may imply that part of the Hispanic attendants do not understand the messages but everybody should understand that what is important is not that the attendants understand the messages during the event but that Americans that happen to have to opportunity to watch the event.
ii) Visual resources are very important to communicate the emotive message we want to communicate. As Mothers of May Plaza marched with the pictures of the people disappeared by the Argentine dictatorship, we will with the pictures of outstanding students whose future is being frustrated by the Republican Right, those of the undocumented soldiers who have died in Iraq, those of the children who has been left abandoned after their parents have been captured in a raid and those of the people who have died in the desert trying to reach the United States.
iii) The final part of the march may be a religious service for the victims of the anti-immigrant legislation and even a vigil.
iv) If possible, we will count with properly identified volunteers who will help to give security to the event to avoid provocations, or misbehaviors or the apparition of foreign flags and, in general, to avoid any behavior at odds with the profile of the event and which could be used afterwards to distort the image of alternativeness we need to create. The people who engage in such behaviors will be invited to leave.
d) As part of the tactics of image, we can adapt another successful Argentine experience: the Teacher’s Tent. As part of his electoral promises, Menem promised the teachers a raise. After the elections, Menem did not provide on his promise trusting that any protest on the teachers’ side would generate more antipathy than solidarity. The teachers created the Teachers’ Tent as a series of tents in strategic places where, engaged by the press and the public, they could explain articulately their points of view (different from a chanting of slogans, typical of the traditional protest). A few weeks later, Menem had to provide on his promise. In this case, if the Democratic Party could guarantee us a minimum of press coverage, it would be important to launch an Immigrant Tent, our version of the Teachers’ Tent. The activist students for the Dream Act would be of great help to develop this tactic.
e) While the civil rights fight went hand in hand with their intellectuals, the traditional pro-immigrant movements have shown hostility towards the pro-immigrant intellectuals. Thus, they not only have kept the latter out of their decisions but also, despite counting with excellent arguments in the research made by liberal think tanks like the Pew Hispanic Center or the conservative Cato Institute, they have preferred repeatedly to be the laughingstock in the interviews and to look impotent in debates with opponents of a low intellectual level. Our movement cannot make that mistake. That is why one of its most important goals is going to be to convoke to one or two events with pro-immigrant intellectuals. If possible, the goal of the first event is going to be a contest of proposals over some of which, if possible, the Pew Hispanic Center and the Cato Institute give their opinion. These events will also be part of our strategy to raise funds as I will show in the following theme.
f) If we can count with press collaboration, it would be important to convoke to a contest of proposals on immigration. The best proposals would be delivered to the Pew Hispanic Center and the Cato Institute to get their opinion. Thus the Movement Alexander Hamilton as well as both think tanks will benefit from the resulting publicity. It is very important that we think of the movement as a platform on which we can receive and assemble at least two proposals. We need a pool of proposals compatible among them. We must not fall in the trap of supporting an only one proposal unless we want to repeat the mistakes of those bills that since 2005 have not been able of overcoming the level of Conference between both chambers. Furthermore, a pool of proposals has a better opportunity of convoking a more wide public support.
g) The emotive messages are very important as they can generate the guilt feeling needed for the people revise the previous positioning of immigration. As part of this line, I give you the Project Girl. This project consists of a series of posters that can be exhibited in friendly Hispanic businesses. In that poster a 6-year old girl looks sad to the floor. The background is black to give the girl’s figure prominence. She wears a T-shirt on which the phrase "illegal alien" is grossly written. At her sides hands coming from the sleeves of expensive suits finger point her and in red types, under those hands, the phrases "criminal," "brownie," "terrorist," and "get out of my country" can be read. In front of the girl, on the lower part and in bold yellow types, it can be read "Don’t turn your back on me" and our Web page (We are going to need one. In the original design, the message on yellow letters said "Don’t turn your back on me. Vote").
h) Especially if we can count with the support of the Democratic Party with respect to visibility on the side of press coverage, no leader of our movement must speak in the name of the movement if he has not been properly prepared for interviews. The traditional movements have gotten used to make pitiful numbers in interviews and debates. That is a luxury we cannot afford.
The preparation for interviews consist in one or two sessions in which the advisors are going to literally attack with the hardest questions so at the moment the leader has to face a debate or interview, it is not going to be difficult for him to give a good performance. It is exactly the same kind of work a candidate’s advisors do when their candidate has to face debates. Of course, this supposes that the leader has to absorb the minimum quantity of information that makes that result possible.
i) If we can count with press support, it would be ideal to count with some kind of short publication basically to put in the public’s knowledge the kind of information that challenges the xenophobic Right’s assertions. This is nothing new. This is what the Falung Gong has been doing for a long time to exhibit its criticism of the Chinese Communist Party.
j) In times of recession and of scarce resources for social programs, the gift from the immigrants to the Americans most affected is going to be (in my legislative proposal) a $15,000 fine, which may be paid in installments in six years in the same conditions as the tax debts with the IRS. These fines will be part of the fund of support and training for the sector most affected by the competition of immigrants. For more details, see my legislative proposal.
- Program of Volunteers
The program of volunteers is based in two columns: on one side, the activist students for the Dream Act, for tactics of persuasion directed to the general public and, on the other side, union leaders (or people with that kind of personality), for GOTV efforts and persuasion directed basically to the Hispanic public in particular. The same way that DCCC moves volunteers recruited basically in states overwhelmingly Democrats to use them in swing states, we need to develop programs of volunteers we can use to persuade those politicians who are in swing states, where the Hispanic vote is not a priority but can make a difference at the margin. The volunteers are directed to support the activities of image and the electoral campaigns of politicians we need in swing districts and those who decide to introduce the bills we support.
The volunteers have a cellular organization. Each group has a representative who keeps an active contact, through telephone or e-mail, with the members of his cell. Thus we can keep the group alive even during the short periods of inactivity. The representative of the group motivates and trains it for the tasks the movement needs and receive directives directly from the Board (which I will define later, when I talk about structure).
Our fundraising strategy assumes an academic event. At the end of the academic event, the think tanks and the politicians who sympathize with our cause will have the opportunity of contacting businessmen that can contribute with their campaigns, moment that will be expressly mentioned in our invitations.
It would be important to convince Immigrant’s List, an already established PAC, of joining our cause but we cannot discard the possibility of founding a PAC because it is pitiful to found an organization that does not count with the tools necessary to reach the goal of its organization. The Democratic Party and 21st Century Democrats can help us to identify the legal figures that are necessary to achieve our goal.
The method I propose is based on the following structure: leader, advisor, and support. Each founder member of the movement takes one of these categories according to his capabilities. The leader is the person who works better attracting members, volunteers and supporters; it is the person who opens doors and gets contacts; it is, then, the person others follow. The advisor is the person who keeps himself informed and keeps the leaders informed, evaluates the environment and makes suggestions and proposals to the movement; likewise, he prepares the leader when this has to show up to the media or has to debate opponents. Personally, I believe this is the function that better fits with my capabilities. Support is the person whose best capability is management; it is the person who uses the resources efficiently and cares for the tactics to be performed according to what has been planned. In example, a Press Secretary is a Support person, as is the organizer of a march with the above described characteristics.
The founders form a Board, which admits new members only with the other members’ approval. The Board has the final word with respect to the execution of tactics or affairs related with volunteers.
The volunteers are the members recruited for the movement Alexander Hamilton. They have a cellular organization to keep the necessary discretion and to protect the volunteers of low blows made by the xenophobic Right as far as the movement does not reach such size that a cellular structure interferes with its dynamism and capabilities to react quickly.
Of course, if the movement is successful, the fact of having achieved successes where the traditional movements got only failures will be enough to launch the political careers of many of the founding members.
In the first meeting we will discuss this document. If it is approved, we will define the assets with which the movement can count with. A strategy is the way the long-term goals fit with the available resources. The definition of the assets is what is going to determine what tactics are viable and what not. It is convenient to mention that the assets are not only cash or donations. Contacts with the press, politicians and other organizations may be much more valuable than cash to achieve the goals of the movement. On my side, I am going to convoke 21st Century Democrats to ask them all the support they can give us for this project.
In the second meeting the tactics to be executed are defined. It is important that the academic event-fundraising and the program of volunteers are executed the best possible way as these tactics are the ones that must show the importance of the movement. The tactics of image are several and to sacrifice some of them may not affect the goal of achieving a positioning as an alternative pro-immigrant movement.
From this second meeting on, we can divide the tactics in committees and make a Board meeting once a week to evaluate the advance and make the necessary adjustments.
Alfredo M. Bravo de Rueda E.
III. Legislative proposal
Draft of the proposal of Amendment of the S. 1033, Comprehensive Bill on Immigration Reform (Updated and sent to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on 11-09-06):
The Founding Fathers dreamed of a country where each man be judged for his own character. Nevertheless, as the Jim Crow, the Chinese Exclusion Act or the Slave Fugitive Act, the present immigration law has become a law lacking morality. To defend this law just because it is a law and to condemn any person law-broke it would lead to call Rosa Parks a criminal because she defied the immoral segregation laws. The immorality of the present system reaches astonishing levels when we realize that Alexander Hamilton, the most important immigrant of our history, would not have been able to come legally with this law. Thus, we propose repealing Section 202(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1152(a)) as a tribute to the spirit of our Funding Fathers that each person be judged by his or her own character and that subjecting people to limits due to the country in which they were born is a new system of castes contrary to that spirit.
Furthermore, because most residence visas are awarded based on what President Kennedy called accidents of birth, the character of the applicant has become completely irrelevant if he has not been born in the right country or family. In the case of skilled labor, less than 10% of those getting residence visas get them through one of the five employment-based categories and actually most of them have to rely more on personal relations than in the quality of their own skills. Even though education should not the only one indicator of character, at least most of the employment-based immigrants have made something to achieve a better education. The problem of the predominance of factors different from character is even worse in the case of unskilled immigrants.
For people without the privileges of birth rewarded by the law there is simply no way to come legally to America, no matter what their characters are. What does the present immigration law rewards then?
a) Your relatives in America. No relatives, no green card. Result: A prosperous market of fake marriages.
b) Your socioeconomic situation in your country of origin. If you come from a Third World country and you do not belong to a privileged socioeconomic class, your chances depend on deceiving the consulate officer, get a tourist visa and adjust status here. If Third World countries had markets that worked, you could argue that the market has selected the wealthiest as the fittest. Unfortunately it is well documented the uncompetitive nature of those markets and the lack of social mobility typical of those societies.
c) Your country of origin could mean the difference between waiting more than 20 years and coming legally since the very first day.
d) Your luck to win a lottery. Nevertheless, if you win the lottery but you do not have relatives here or somebody who somehow knows you here enough to give you a job, at the end no residence visa will be awarded to you.
e) Having been illegal before 1986 or having successfully go through the 245(i) process.
Should it surprise us the disappointing performance of many of these immigrants during the last decade? Even more important than that, the present law does nothing to assimilate the millions of immigrants whose children will become an important political power in the future. Thus the ethic fundament rescues the most important criterion: the quality of the immigrant over his quantity.
So, to judge the 12 million illegal immigrants we a new standard: the full residence is something you have to DESERVE.
The illegal immigration problem begins in the labor market . If the number of visas loses pace with the labor demand, sooner or later, those positions will be filled with illegal immigrants (basically in the case of the unskilled labor market) or the sectors will have to suffer inefficiencies (basically in the case of the skilled labor market). If previous attempts, like the 1986 Reagan’s amnesty or the Clinton’s 245(i), have "failed", this has been mainly the result of subsequent restrictions created by conservative politicians for legal immigration to help the labor market reach a sustainable equilibrium. The 18th Amendment, better known as the Prohibition, was another conservative attempt of putting artificial restrictions on the market . After its failure and repeal, all we got left was wasted years and resources, the cultural effects of the illegitimacy of that law and a strengthened organized crime.
To reduce illegal immigration to a marginal phenomenon that can be dealt with using law enforcement, your immigration law has first to have a defensible moral standard (quality criterion) and second be efficient in terms of the labor market (quantity criterion).
a) National security: You can hardly be serious about national security with 12 million people living in the shadows . Nevertheless, it is not surprising that the same people who filibustered in Congress the Kennedy-McCain proposal (S. 1033), also blocked in December of 2004 the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission just because the Senate did not accept to include in the law their anti-immigrant proposals, which had not been asked by the 9/11 Commission. They lifted the filibuster only after they were promised to include such proposals in another law, the one that later became the infamous Real ID Act.
b) Medicare and Social Security: The younger generation of immigrants and their children will let the Medicare and Social Security funding make a soft landing.
c) Armed Forces: The younger new generation of immigrants will let our Armed Forces to refresh our overstressed troops if necessary.
d) Health: To regularize the status of illegal immigrants will let prevent sanitary risks originated in the fear of illegal immigrants to expose their migratory status.
Draft of the proposal:
- Guest workers and immigrants must have a level of command of English acceptable for the status to which they are applying. For undocumented workers here in the United States, English will be evaluated at three levels: listening, speaking, reading and writing. The level required from residence applicants will be more demanding than the level required from the guest worker program applicants and the most demanding level will be for those applying for residence as skilled workers. Thus the levels will be four in total. In the case of new immigrants, the test will be on reading and written English and the level required from resident applicants will also be higher compared to the level required from the guest worker program applicants.
Public services in Spanish will be limited to health, access to justice and security related services.
English should be the main step in the integration between the native born and immigrants and also between immigrants of different languages.
- Undocumented workers here in the United States must pay an important fine. Nevertheless, applicants will be able to pay it in installments in the same terms as any other tax debts to the IRS. The fine will be bigger for residence applicants than for guest worker applicants.
- The Kennedy-McCain proposal imposes very long terms separating the illegal immigrant (applicant) from legal residence. This could be inefficient as the more gifted among the applicants would find it more difficult to improve their education in the short term and so America would unnecessarily deprive itself from the benefits of their education maybe for ever. Originally my proposal allowed undocumented skilled workers make the waiting terms of the Kennedy-McCain proposal shorter paying an additional fine. Nevertheless now I do believe that to make the terms of the Kennedy-McCain proposal shorter what the applicant (skilled or unskilled worker) should do is to take the most demanding English and Civics tests and obtain a good grade in the type of test corresponding to the category (immigrant, guest worker) and subcategory (skilled, unskilled) of legalization he chose at the moment of his application. The idea is to encourage achievement and social mobility among the applicants. Even though the above mentioned categories do not exclude each other, the importance of the integration issue and the misleading accent given to it by anti-immigrant groups in their last attacks have made advisable to put the emphasis on integration as a criterion to make shorter the terms that separate the applicant from a deserved legal residence. The amount collect as a result of this fine will go to an educative and training fund for the least skilled sector of the American labor supply and/or to a fund contributive to the Medicare and Social Security funds. I would prefer the first option.
- Residence applicants and illegal immigrants here in the United States will contribute with a number of hours as volunteers in the church, political party, charity or any other approved institution of their choice. The goal is that the applicants, especially unskilled workers who pay less in taxes, compensate society in this alternative way for the services they use but, at the same time, the goal is integrate the applicants to the American institutions with which they identify the most. If the applicant’s economic situation made too onerous for him to employ his time in volunteering, the applicant will be able to make a donation to one of the institutions mentioned before for an amount equivalent to the hours he will not be able to volunteer at the rate determined by the immigration authority for his specific situation after having made a statement justifying his petition.
- Residence applicants who are at the moment illegally in the United States will have to pay a small tax on the remittances they make abroad. The amount collected as a result of this tax will go to the same fund mentioned in point 2. The idea is that Americans and immigrants keeping their money in America may have an additional benefit at the expense of those who do not.
- It will be recommended that the migratory status be considered to aggravate the punishment in case of felonies at recommendation of the judge who see the criminal case. It is not possible that while hundreds die in the desert trying to reach a better life, a group of criminals comes here to create chaos and so let themselves to be used as poster boys of the anti-immigrant groups’ campaign of deception .
- If somebody applies to be a guest worker and then changes his mind and wants to adjust status to immigrant, that fact will not give him an additional term or advantages with respect to those who originally applied to be immigrants.
- The guest worker program is a complement to the immigration program, so the risk of creating a permanent subclass of guest workers or an alienated subculture gets seriously diminished.
- Diversity and Family based immigration will not imply automatically the right to work in the United States. Being here, those immigrants will have the advantage of easier availability of information for their Civics test, more opportunities to volunteer and demonstrate good character and frequent practice for their English test but the right to work is something they will have to compete for in the terms of this proposal. Trying to use immigration to equilibrate the labor market including authentic family-based immigration could be deceptive and create the new windows of opportunity for new illegal immigration that we are trying to prevent as there are many legitimate cases of relatives brought to the United States who are not interested in working. The gap so created would open again important job opportunities for new illegal immigrants. As we stated, the accident of birth should not be a reason to be awarded the right to work in America so we strip family-based immigration of such right. Nevertheless, to avoid that many of those relatives become the next wave of illegal immigration, this option implies that some kind of control at the workplace is absolutely necessary. It is time to put an end to the market of marriages based not on legitimate family reasons but on the wish of having a short cut to the United States labor market.
- Social security contributions of the last three years must be returned to those applying for the guest worker program and to those applying for the immigrant program before obtaining a Tax Identification Number and must be counted in their accounts to those who applied for the immigrant program after obtaining a Tax Identification Number before the Internal Revenue Service. Our Congressmen should be able to explain that, unless you typify confiscation as a punishment for this particular situation and apply that punishment retroactively, you would have to return the money withheld to illegal immigrants using the same criterion used by the Internal Revenue Service for undue payments by taxpayers. Furthermore, that would imply a differentiate punishment for those with Social Security and Medicare withholdings, even if they got Tax Identification Numbers, with respect to those who were paid without withholding and to whom the payment of the Self Employment Tax could not be demanded under such circumstances. Our Congressmen should be able to explain that these are not cases of identity theft to commit fraud (which deserve nothing but criminal prosecution) but cases in which a Social Security Number is taken at random and with the only objective of getting a job. Finally, our Congressmen should be able to explain that if an additional monetary punishment is considered necessary by some, the most effective way to do it is not confiscated the withholdings of some illegal immigrants but fairly increasing the fines for all of them.
- The objective of this proposal is to be the hard version that complements the Kennedy-McCain proposal so our Congressmen have an alternative that pleases good-faith conservatives and so they can count with a hard proposal (this one) with which to negotiate in Conference with a compatible soft proposal (Kennedy-McCain) over details like fines, levels of tests or number of hours of volunteering without sacrificing the key elements of a fair and efficient immigration reform capable of bringing a long-term solution to this issue.
Alfredo M. Bravo de Rueda E.
AMENDMENTS PROPOSED TO S. 1033
- Add Sec. 133 (d) (5) require organizations whose goals are related to the defense of immigrant rights to develop programs of collaboration with their local police departments and of motivation of their communities against gangs. These organizations will report the performance of those programs to the Department of Homeland Security within the six months after the day of enactment of the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act. Not fulfilling this commitment will result in these organizations losing their character of charitable organizations for effects of income tax deductions and for effects of receiving volunteers for the effects of the added Sec. 306, which amends Sec. 245 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1255) in the terms here described.
- Amend Sec. 305 (1) (C), which amends Sec. 214(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1184(g)), to read as follows:
‘‘’(C) under section 101(a)(15)(H)(v)(a), may not exceed—
(i) 400,000 for the first fiscal year in which the program is implemented;
(ii) In any subsequent fiscal year, the number of visas that entitle their holders to work shall result of the estimation made by the Essential Worker Visa Program Task Force for that year. The number of family-sponsored visas will be determined according to the respective Sections of this Act but they will not grant automatically the right to work in the United States. To earn this right, the holder of a family-sponsored visa must have obtained a position in the ranking to which Sec. 245B (a) (7) (A) (ii) as amended by Sec. 702 (a) refers that is good enough to obtain a visa without such sponsorship and within the parameters proposed by the Essential Worker Visa Program Task Force and approved by Congress. No new diversity visas will be issued."
- Add Sec. 306, which amends Section 245 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1255), by adding at the end the following:
"(n) (1) ‘(B) second paragraph: The term of 4 years can be waived if the alien gets a position in the ranking resulting from the English exam and the Civics and History tests for skilled immigrant workers. The ranking to which this section refers is that of Sec. 245B (a) (7) (A) (ii) as amended by 702 (a)."
- Amend Sec. 306, which amends Sec. 245 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1255), to read as follows:
"(2) (B) (ii): has taken the English and Civics and History tests for his kind of occupation and obtained a position in the ranking to which Sec. 245B (a) (7) (A) (ii) as amended by Sec. 245B (a) (7) (A) (ii) as amended by Sec. 702 (a) refers that meets the minimum standards to obtain a visa within the parameters proposed by the Essential Worker Visa Program Task Force and approved by Congress. If the alien has not obtained a qualifying position in the ranking, he will have six years to achieve that minimum level or will not be qualify to adjust status under the terms of this section.
- Add Sec. 306, which amends Sec. 245 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1255), to read as follows:
"(2) (B) (iii) has signed with the Department of Homeland Security a commitment to volunteer 180 hours in the next six years. The alien must inform the Department of Homeland Security within the next three months after filing his petition for adjustment of status in what the institution(s) he will be performing these hours. The same way, he will inform the Department of Homeland Security if the alien decides to volunteer in another institution(s) different from the originally chosen in the month following the change. The institutions at which these hours can be performed could be churches, charities, government institutions, political parties and, in general, any institution approved by the Department of Homeland Security as appropriate to facilitate the integration of the alien to the American society. In case the performance of these hours were too onerous for the alien, the alien can file a petition explaining his reasons to the Department of Homeland Security and fulfill this requirement making a donation to any of these institutions for an amount equal to the 125% of his rate per hour or an equivalent approved by the Department of Homeland Security times the number of hours he would not be performing as a volunteer. The Department of Homeland Security can reject the reject the petition y rejecting the reasons given by the alien to replace his volunteer commitment with a donation in the month following the petition. Otherwise, it is considered accepted.
- Add Sec. 307 (b) (7): the number of visas to be granted each fiscal year. In the case of immigrant and non-immigrant visas giving their holder the right to work, their number must be result from the labor demand estimated for those occupations in which the foreign-born labor supply is important. The findings for the second year will constitute a basket of occupations for which a three-year projection will be made. The basket of occupations should be revised each three years unless exceptional circumstances make it advisable an earlier revision. The annual revision of the estimation will be used to adjust the number of these visas to be granted the next fiscal year. The Essential Worker Visa Program Task Force will inform Congress annually on their sources for the estimation, the methodology and the results of the estimation. The objective of this estimation is that the number of visas allowing their holder to work in the United States keeps pace with the needs of the labor market.
The number of family-sponsored immigration visas granted each fiscal year will be determined using the criteria of Sec. 601. The objective of these visas is to let families unify and extend diversity and must not be a shortcut to the right to work in America.
- Add Sec. 307 (b) (8): the constitutional grounds to recommend the application of aggravated sentences to aliens found guilty of felonies by judges of American courts in criminal cases.
- Add Sec. 307 (b) (9): the feasibility of a small tax on remittances with a smaller rate for guest workers than for immigrants. The proceeds of this tax shall be deposited in the same fund in which fines shall be deposited according to Sec. 701 (a).
- Add. Sec. 307 (b) (10): mechanisms to improve the assimilation of immigrants to American values. Part of this report will be the public services to which services in Spanish should be limited on the grounds of health, access to justice and national security.
- Add Sec. 307 (b) (11): the best use that can be made of the fund to which Sec. 250 (i) (4) refers and who should be in charge of such special fund.
- Add Sec. 307 (b) (12): the terms under which aliens applying under Sec. 701 should be allowed to enlist in the Armed Forces. This report will be issued within the first 3 months after the enactment of this Act.
- Eliminate Section 502, Bilateral Efforts with Mexico to Reduce Migration Pressures and Costs.
- Amend Sec. 601 (b) to amend Section 201(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1151(d)) to read as follows:
"’(d) Worldwide Level of Employment-Based Immigrants: The worldwide level of employment-based immigration will be determined following the criteria of Sec. 307 (b) (7). From this total, the number of visas assigned to employment-based non-immigrant aliens will be the number of visas unused by employment-based immigrants.
- Eliminate Sec. 602 and repeal Section 202(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1152(a)).
- Amend Sec. 603 (a) to include at the end of Sec. 203(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1153(a)):
(a) (5) Family-sponsored visas will not grant the right to work in the United States of America. To earn this right, the alien must have obtained a position in the ranking to which Sec. 245B (a) (7) (A) (ii) as mended by Sec. 702 (a) refers that is good enough to obtain a visa within the parameters proposed by the Essential Worker Visa Program Task Force and approved by Congress.
- Amend Sec. 603 (b) to amend Sec. 203(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1153(b)) to read as follows: The preference allocation for employment-based immigrants will follow the criteria of Sec. 307 (b) (7).
- Amend Sec. 250A (i) (1) (B) created by Sec. 701 (a), which amends Chapter 5 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1255 et seq.) to add a second paragraph as follows:
"’(i) (1) (B) Nevertheless, the waiting period of 6 years of Section 250A can be waived if the alien gets a qualifying position in the ranking resulting from the English for skilled immigrant workers test and the Civics and History for skilled immigrant workers test. The ranking to which this section refers is that of Sec. 245B (a) (7) (A) (ii) as amended by Sec. 702 (a)."
- Amend Sec. 250A (i) (3) created by Sec. 701 (a), which amends Chapter 5 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1255 et seq.) to read as follows:
"(i) (3) (A) IN GENERAL: In addition to the fee required under paragraph (2), the Secretary of Homeland Security may accept an application for adjustment of status under this section only if the alien pays a $10,000 fine. This fine can be paid in installments with a down payment of $1,000. The Department of Homeland Security will evaluate the plan of payments for the applicant with the same criteria used by the Internal Revenue Service for tax debts.
- Amend Sec. 250A (i) (4) created by Sec. 701 (a), which amends Chapter 5 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1255 et seq.) to add a second paragraph as follows:
"(i) (4) All fees collected under this section shall be deposited in the Treasury in accordance with section 286 (w). The fines collected under this section shall be deposited in a special fund in the Treasury to improve competitiveness of American citizens and legal residents belonging to the less skilled sector of the American labor supply.
Social Security and Medicare withholdings and contributions must be returned to those applying for the guest worker program and to those applying for the immigrant program if made in the last three years before obtaining a Tax Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service. If the applicant alien obtained a Tax Identification Number, those withholdings will be counted in the alien’s respective accounts.
- Amend Sec. 250A (j) (1) (A) created by Sec. 701 (a), which amends Chapter 5 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1255 et seq.) to read as follows:
"(j) ‘(1) (A) shall be granted employment authorization pending final adjudication of the alien’s application for adjustment of status provided that the alien has signed a commitment to take the English and Civi