Marking Up The Immigration Bill

When the “Gang of Eight” released their much-awaited bill, they posted it online for all to see. A group of select Senators, both Republican and Democrat, were then given permission to mark up the bill.

This meant that they were allowed to discuss, debate and offer amendments which, if agreed upon, would be added to the “Gang’s” immigration bill. Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on how you see it), scandals and natural disasters made it possible for the senators to mark up the bill without much interference from anti-immigration nutcases.

I, along with fellow immigration reform junkies, followed the markup process on the interwebs, as well as on CSPAN. It was great watching the “Gang of Eight” systematically quash every amendment brought forward with the intention of killing their Immigration bill.

Fighting off poison pill amendments from Republican members of the “Gang of Hate” was no easy feat. Ted Cruz, the Canadian- born Hispanic Senator from Texas, whined and whined incessantly, like a 3 year old, whenever his poison pill amendments were rejected.

Anti-immigration Senator Jeff Sessions from the suthern state of Alabama constantly regurgitated lies concocted by immigrant hate groups like NumbersUSA and FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform). He matter-of-factly claimed that, if legalized, we, the Undocumented, would pretty much steal jobs from just about every living US citizen.

At the end of the markup, the enemies of immigration reform were defeated and the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the “Gang of Eight” bill with a 13-5 vote!

Next, the bill will go to the Senate floor where it will be discussed, debated upon and voted on. The general desire is for it to pass the Senate with at a 60+ vote majority. When it passes (and I have faith it will), the bill will move to the Republican-dominated House.

What happens to the bill in the House is anyone’s guess. That said, time is running out and now is the time for Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill. We, the Undocumented, can’t wait to come out of the shadows and get a fair shot at living the American Dream. For so long we have been living the American Nightmare.


What’s Your Game Plan?

Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that the Democrats and Republicans in Congress had a kumbaya moment and passed the immigration reform bill. If that happened, what would your game plan be? Presently, nobody quite knows how the reform bill will look. However, there are about four things that people predict you and I will have to deal with if, or when, the bill is signed into law.

1. Coming out. This is probably going to be the hardest and scariest decision you’ll have to make because of its consequences. There are many ‘what if’s’ that you will need to ask yourself: “What if I’m forced to tell my employer that I used fake documents to get the job?” “How will I go about paying my back taxes?” “If I come out and fail to pass any one of the many requirements they have, will I be deported?” “Do I have the money to pay fines as well as possible attorney fees?” “What will my friends and family members say when they learn that I’m undocumented?” These, among many other questions, should be considered before you decide to come out of the shadows.

2. Fines. We will probably have to pay a fine of some kind. Let’s face it, we broke the law and since this is not 1986 and our president is not Ronald Reagan, I doubt that someone is going to walk up to us, thank us for being undocumented and then give us Amnesty. Though we don’t know how much the fines will be, my guess is that unless Congress does away with the “fine the illegals” idea, the fines will be anywhere from $1-$2,000 a person. It’s important to consider the paying of fines as a possibility and figure out where you will find the money to pay them.

3. Temporary visas. We may or may not get a renewable temporary visa to stay and work legally in this country. My hope is that we’ll get green cards and that we won’t have to leave the US for the visas or green cards to be processed. Leaving of course would mean more spending in order to become legal. The truth of the matter is that most of us aren’t rich and it would be nice if Congress did us a kindness and really put that into consideration as they work on the immigration bill.

4. Waiting and waiting and waiting. Waiting is something that we immigrants are used to. Some of us have waited patiently for decades, with the hope that the American people would officially acknowledge our existence and toil to legalize us. If lawmakers like the “Gang of Eight” and Marco Rubio have their way, we’ll all be required to go to the back of the Green Card line. This line still has individuals in it who applied to come to the US way back in the 80s. That was when parachute pants were in, and bangs that reached for the heavens were said to be “totally rad.” The way the current immigration system works, it may take us a couple of centuries to get the papers needed to live and work legally in the US. Congress needs to figure out a way to speed up the Green Card process. Otherwise, they would be letting us die of thirst at the side of the fountain.

If congress passes the immigration reform bill, we’ll all be able to hit the reset button of our lives. We’ll finally be free! We won’t need to look over our shoulder for ICE agents or freak out when someone knocks on our door. We’ll be able to tell the whole truth about ourselves to anyone and everyone, and we’ll no longer be preyed on because of our undocumented status.

There is no better day than today for you to be strong and courageous. It’s time you worked on a game plan just in case Congress does the right thing and allows us to live and work legally in this great country.


Waivers? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Waivers!

Earlier this month, the Obama administration announced that as of March 4th, “illegal” aliens who had US citizen children would be given a special waiver. This waiver would allow them to stay in the US as they continued to work on seeking legal status. To get legal status, the “illegal” aliens would still have to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that their US-born children would endure extreme hardship if their parents were deported.

Once the government accepted the proof presented to them, the aliens would then have to go back to their country of origin to pick up their visa from the US consulate. This time, the administration pinkie-promised that the processing of the visas at the consulate would take a shorter time than before. They also gave their word that after the “illegal” aliens got their visas, they wouldn’t be prevented from rejoining their families in the US. Frankly, I’m extremely skeptical of this so-called “special” waiver.

It doesn’t sound to me like a good deal, because it is not 100% guaranteed that Homeland Security will allow the person back into the US once they leave the country. I say this because I don’t trust the administration; not just yet.

Throughout the past year, President Obama, as well as Homeland Security, claimed that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was focusing on arresting criminals. However, they still sent two ICE agents to capture me, even though I wasn’t a threat to anyone. It seems to me that there was a break in communication between the administration and my local ICE field office. That break needs to be fixed.

I think it’s sweet that the administration is making us think that it’s doing something about the 11 million “illegal” immigrants living in the US; but that’s not good enough. Very few “illegal” aliens will take advantage of the waiver because it’s too risky. Few of them are crazy enough to come out in the open and surrender at an ICE office in exchange for a waiver. They are smarter than that. Those in deportation proceedings are about the only ones who stand to benefit from this waiver. Waving waivers at “illegal” immigrants’ faces may seem like an enticing and sexy act, but few, if any, will take the bait.