As Immigration Protests Mount Democrats Unveil Plan

The first lawsuit against Arizona’s tough anti-immigrant law was filed last April 29 by a Tucson police officer who claimed that the law would compel him to engage in racial profiling.

Another group composed of clergies filed a petition in Phoenix alleging that the law would target their vehicles travelling in Hispanic neighborhoods.

Three well-known civil rights groups, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and the National Immigration Law Center have also announced that they would work together to challenge the constitutionality of the law.

In the meantime, it has been reported that at least ten (10) states including Ohio, Missouri, Maryland, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas are preparing to introduce similar anti-immigrant legislations.

National outrage over the law has been growing rapidly. On May 1st, hundreds of thousands took to the streets in at least 70 locations all over the country. Some demonstrators were arrested, including Rep. Gutierrez, the principal author of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill in the House.

Rep. Gutierrez likened the anti-Arizona movement to the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Rev. Jesse Jackson said that “Arizona has become a Selma.”

Only several days ago, President Obama said that Congress “may not have the appetite to tackle immigration reform this year.” But he quickly praised the proposal of Democratic Senators Harry Reid, Richard Durbin, Charles Schumer, Patrick Leahy, Diane Feinstein and Robert Menendez to fix our broken immigration system as soon as possible.

The Democratic proposal is entitled Real Enforcement with Practical Answers for Immigration Reform or REPAIR. It is a “framework of concrete bipartisan ideas” for reform.

It would increase the number of border patrol officers, immigration agents and inspectors at the port of entry. It would also provide for a more effective entry-exit system designed to monitor overstaying visitors.

It seeks to end illegal employment through biometric employment verification. Biometric social security cards would be issued within eighteen (18) months from the date of the enactment of the proposed law.

The legal immigration system would be reformed to maximize economic prosperity. The law would provide immediate green cards to foreign students educated in the U.S. with an advanced degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. The existing H and L visas would be reformed and a new H-2C visa for non-seasonal, non agricultural workers would be created.

The family immigration backlog would be cleared over an 8-year period. Unused immigrant visas would be recaptured and spouses and children would be classified as immediate relatives. The per country cap would be increased from 7% to 10%. Children of Filipino World War II veterans would be exempted from the cap. Foreign doctors, nurses, and physical therapists would be given workers visas more easily.

Undocumented immigrants would be legalized in two phases. Phase I would require them to register, be fingerprinted and get a background check. Upon their complete registration, they would be accorded Lawful Prospective Immigrant status (LPI) with right to work and travel. Those who fail to register or those who are not eligible to register would be arrested and deported.

Phase II would start 8 years after the enactment of the law and when the current visa backlogs are cleared. They would be eligible to apply for adjustment to permanent residents.