Mar 29 2006

Immigration Debate and Walkouts Continue

Feature Stories | Published 29 Mar 2006, 9:44 am | Comments Off on Immigration Debate and Walkouts Continue -

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GUESTS: Linda Bonn, Katie Rainge, teachers at Manual Arts High School

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the McCain-Kennedy version of immigration legislation earlier this week, after hundreds of thousands of immigrant communities took to the streets.

This so-called compromise bill is being glowingly hailed as coupling border security measures with allowing millions of undocumented workers to apply for legal work visas and move toward U.S. citizenship, while at the same time offering hundreds of thousands of foreign workers “access to the U.S. workplace.”

But is this so-called compromise bill really a better bill than the Sensenbrenner bill, which was so strongly opposed by last week’s demonstrators?

Under the Judiciary Committee bill, immigrants would have to pay a $1,000 fine and back taxes. But how would back-taxes be calculated for people who work under the table? And, do back taxes come with retro-active Social Security benefits? Probably not. Under the bill, immigrants would be able to apply for a three-year work visa, renewable for a second three-year period. In the fourth year of work, the visa holder could begin a five-year path toward citizenship. So it would be at least 10 years before a worker could possibly get citizenship. The bill also calls for an outright guest worker program to for agricultural jobs.

Unlike the Sensenbrenner bill, the McCain-Kennedy bill would not authorize the building of a 700 mile long fence on the border with Mexico. But, it would more than double the border patrol agents, and authorize a “virtual wall” of unmanned aerial vehicles, cameras and sensors to monitor the border.

Additionally, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s bill is nowhere near becoming law. It faces a contentious debate in the full Senate and strong opposition in the House. Lawmakers, fighting between two relatively similar anti-immigrant bills, seem quite out of touch with the sentiments of the public.

Meanwhile, on the heels of the largest demonstration in Los Angeles history, came the largest high school walkout perhaps in US history. On Monday an estimated 40,000 students walked out of Southern California classrooms in protest of anti-immigrant legislation. The walkouts continued yesterday and are expected to last for a while yet. On tomorrow’s edition of Uprising, we will speak with several students in studio. Today, we’ll speak with teachers.

Sonali’s Subversive Thought for the Day:

Gustavo Gutierrez — “Latin American misery and injustice go too deep to be responsive to palliatives. Hence we speak of social revolution, not reform; of liberation, not development; of socialism, not modernization of the prevailing system. “Realists” call these statements romantic and utopian. And they should, for the reality of these statements is of a kind quite unfamiliar to them.”

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