The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 74/No. 13      April 5, 2010

Schumer-Graham bill is
attack on workers rights
Democratic senator Charles Schumer and Republican senator Lindsey Graham released their proposal for immigration “reform” in an op-ed piece in the March 19 Washington Post, two days before the giant outpouring for immigrant rights in Washington, D.C. President Barack Obama quickly endorsed the proposal, saying it “can and should be the basis for moving us forward.”

The plan, said Schumer and Graham, looks at immigration from the standpoint of “America’s security and economic well-being.” It has four “pillars.”

First, all U.S. citizens and legal immigrants who want to work in the United States would be required to carry a national ID card. This would be “a high-tech, fraud-proof Social Security card,” the senators said, with a “unique biometric identifier” for its owner.

“Prospective employers would be responsible for swiping the cards through a machine to confirm a person’s identity and immigration status,” the senators said. Those who refuse to do so or knowingly hire workers lacking proper cards could be fined or jailed.

Second, Schumer and Graham urged an immediate beefing up of Border Patrol cops. This would be combined with “an entry-exit system that tracks people who enter the United States on legal visas and reports those who overstay their visas to law enforcement databases.” Although the proposal does not say so specifically, this suggests a much wider use of the 287(g) program, which gives local police the authority to act as immigration cops. The program is widely hated by immigrants because it has led to increased deportations based on cops arbitrarily stopping or finding pretext to arrest workers who appear to be from other countries in order to check their papers.

The “third pillar” would “award green cards to immigrants who receive a PhD or master’s degree in science, technology, engineering or math from a U.S. university.” The senators said, “It makes no sense to educate the world’s future inventors and entrepreneurs and then force them to leave when they are able to contribute to our economy.”

But there is no such preferential treatment for those who work in construction, manufacturing, and meatpacking; or as janitors, dishwashers, and maids. These “low-skilled immigrants,” as the senators scornfully labeled them, will only be allowed in when they are needed. Those who maintain a good record with their employers and the government “over many years” have a “chance to earn a green card.”

For those already here and undocumented, the senators offer the “fourth pillar”—the “tough but fair path” to a green card. “They would be required to admit they broke the law and to pay their debt to society by performing community service and paying fines and back taxes. These people would be required to pass background checks and be proficient in English before going to the back of the line of prospective immigrants to earn the opportunity to work toward lawful permanent residence.”
Related articles:
‘No deportations, no raids!’ marchers say
More than 100,000 converge on D.C.
Legalize all undocumented!
California farm workers march for legalization
Hundreds at actions buy ‘Workers Power’ book  
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