Professor: Proposed laws to favor immigrants

Although some of the recent illegal immigration proposals have stirred up the U.S. Hispanic population, causing widespread protests and demonstrations across the nation, some new legislation may cause Latinos to turn their heads, said Valerie Martinez-Ebers, associate professor of political science.This new legislation was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee last Monday, which, if approved by the Senate, could potentially allow illegal immigrants to seek citizenship and provide temporary work for these immigrants, said an article from The New York Times.

One aspect of the proposed legislation is the adoption of a temporary worker, or guest worker program. This program would give the illegal immigrant population the option to obtain jobs that Americans aren’t willing to do for a set period of time, at the end of which, the workers would be sent back to their countries, said Martinez-Ebers.

An Associated Press article last Tuesday said the program would create almost 2 million temporary job opportunities, a majority of which are in agriculture, for illegal immigrants.

Martinez-Ebers, who teaches a class on Latino politics at TCU that deals with related topics, said the temporary worker program could be beneficial to both American citizens and illegal immigrants if it is implemented and enforced well.

One of the requirements is for U.S. employers to prove that other U.S. citizens are unwilling to do the work, she said.

“If it is a job that no one else will take, we need their (illegal immigrants’) assistance,” she said.

Adam Schiffer, assistant professor of political science, doesn’t like the idea of such a program because it places illegal immigrants in an inferior position.

“The guest worker program seems to create a second-class citizen,” Schiffer said. “It sets up a scene for exploitation. There should be one form of citizenship for all human beings in the U.S.,” he said.

Schiffer said he thought the legislation was beneficial in its attempt to allow illegal immigrants to become U.S. citizens.

“It’s good that the illegal immigrants can prove they are productively contributing to our country and eventually become citizens,” he said.

Martinez-Ebers said it is important not to get the legislation confused with amnesty.

“The legislation requires illegal immigrations to first become public about being illegal,” she explained.

“Then they have to pay enormous fines, have documentation of their work in the U.S. and have paid all their taxes on top of meeting all the requirements of citizenship,” she said.

“And then they get put at the end of the line of immigrants applying for naturalization.”

Martinez-Ebers said since there are so many people already coming to this country legally every year and the government gives out a certain quota of visas annually, illegal immigrants may still have to wait many years before they can become citizens.

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s approval is just one of the first steps to any final decisions on these issues. This week, the full Senate will vote on the new legislation, and if a bill passes the Senate, it will then be passed on to the House Legislation, according to a New York Times article.