Immigration Policy in Short
*For full policy paper, see further below
"During a talk at an Immigration Rally of some 300 people in Flagstaff, Arizona, I said my administration would push for amnesty for illegal immigrants and family reunification. In addition, I told the Santa Rosa News in New Mexico that I fell heavily on the side of social justice, and a Schriner administration would ardently work for a living wage, benefits and optimal working conditions for all new arrivals to the country." -Joe
Amnesty for illegal immigrants and family reunification.
Living wage, optimal working conditions, benefits, adequate housing for all new arrivals.
Temporary worker program, with border check points, etc., for those who want to work here, but keep their citizenship south of the border.
Help Latin America Drive! Mobilization of much more help (humanitarian aid, Peace Corps, Sister City projects) for countries south of the border to help them with sustainability. (Many people don't want to leave country, family, culture but their kids are hungry, or the political oppression has gotten to be too much.)
North American Union (NAU) Establishment of a NAU between Canada, the U.S., Mexico and Central America -- similar to the evolving European Union (EU). This would be for the purpose of inspiring more joint environmental conservation projects, more joint business ventures, more tourism (especially eco-tourism) to help boost poorer economies, more cultural exchange and, most importantly, it would promote much more general camaraderie between nations. [This would be different than NAFTA.]
"I told the Hobbs (NM) Sun newspaper that we should not look at new arrivals to this country as a burden, but rather as a tremendous opportunity to help" --Joe
Hispanic Immigration Position Paper
Note: While this particular position paper deals primarily with Hispanic immigration, it will also give the reader a good take on the ethos of how I would approach immigration to America in general -- especially in regard to people who were: poverty stricken, politically oppressed, surrounded by violence...
“I told Phoenix, Arizona’s Channel 3 News that our administration would push for total amnesty for illegal immigrants and family reunification. We would also promote a living wage, benefits (including access to quality health care) and optimal working conditions. And we would promote a move toward a “North American Union” where there was a tremendous increase in work on joint environmental projects, humanitarian aid, business ventures, cultural exchanges… I added that we have to move away from our myopic, and quite selfish, American protectionism.” –Joe
*Categories covered below include: 1) The Issues; 2) The Plan; 3) Face of Abject Poverty South of the Border; 4) Unjust Laws; 5) Help in El Paso; 6) Tough Making It; 7) Temporary Workers, etc.; 8)“Hispanic Council” Means Grassroots Help; 9) Deportation, Split Families, Slow Bureaucracy; 10) Illegal Drug Influx; 11) Living Wage, Benefits, Better Housing…; 12) Help Latin America Drive!; 13) Initiatives to Help; 14) “North American Union”; 15) “Tremendous Opportunity to Help.”
1) The Issues
There are some 12 million illegal immigrants in this country who have come here, for the most part, to escape abject poverty and / or political oppression in Mexico and throughout Central America.
We went to Juarez, Mexico, to look at this poverty first-hand. There were a series of slums with 200,000 people living in tiny, makeshift shacks, no running water, and no electricity. Many were hungry. Children were sick, some dying.
We interviewed Tiffin, Ohio’s Sr. Paulette Schroeder who went to Nicaragua on a “Witness for Peace” Tour. She said Contra forces had undertaken a campaign of terror there to undermine strides toward moving people out of poverty. In one village, she heard the story of a Contra attack. Shots were being fired, grenades exploding and a mother grabbed her eight-month-old child and ran. A bullet pierced her back and lodged in the leg of the baby. The mother survived, barely. The baby lost his leg.
This oppression, this poverty, plays out regularly throughout Latin America – so some people come here.
But because the need is often immediate and the citizenship process is often arduously slow, and expensive, a Latino rights activist in Fresno told me some desperate people choose the illegal route. Yet given these scenarios, to deport people and sometimes split their families in the process is simply “cruel,” he said.
What’s also “cruel,” we believe, is allowing for the almost exploitive slave labor conditions that have resulted with these illegal immigrants.
We traveled to the San Joaquin Valley in California to look at migrant farm worker conditions. Scores of illegal (and legal) farm workers are toiling in 115-degree heat, sun up to sun down, for minimum wage, or less. No benefits, seldom any health insurance and continual exposure to toxic farm chemicals.
Similar “almost slave conditions” for illegal immigrants exist in the garment district of Los Angeles and New York, the chicken processing plants in the Midwest, factories all over…
In essence, many of us in America (knowingly or unknowingly) are building our lifestyles on the backs of these illegal immigrants.
Not to mention, just getting a foothold for many of these illegal immigrants is extremely tough in the first place.
We traveled to a hardscrabble area of El Paso, Texas, to a homeless center and transitional living facility for illegal (and legal) immigrants who have just arrived to hear about their struggles. We also went to Eunice, New Mexico, to talk with a man who started the grassroots Hispanic Council and who told us illegal immigrants are tremendously stereotyped when it comes to what Americans believe their working capabilities are.
All these dynamics, in our opinion, add up to a tremendous social justice travesty. And one that needs to be reversed now!
Note: And there’s an even more systemic problem. That is, in being focused so much on selfish American protectionism, we’ve missed so many more opportunities to help Mexico and all of Latin America and South America to become much more sustainable. It is our contention that many people don’t want to leave their family, their country, their culture, etc. to come to America. But, again, their children are hungry.
2) The Plan:
During a talk to a Newman Center student group at Northern Arizona State University, I said the current situation for many illegal immigrants in America amounts to nothing other than institutionalized “slave labor.” And because America espouses “liberty for all,” we’re falling tremendously short in this area.
Our administration would push for total amnesty (no retroactive fines or waiting period for citizenship) for illegal immigrants, family reunification and a much easier citizenship process, I told the Kingman (AZ) Daily Miner newspaper. And for those who want to work here (like the Nicaraguan woman in Ohio) and go back, we would push to pave the way for that as well.
Beyond this, I told Phoenix, Arizona’s Channel 3 News that our administration would try to promote a “living wage” for all these immigrants, much better working conditions, benefits, adequate housing, better education… (For those who want to work here, but maintain their citizenship south of the border, we propose a “Temporary Worker Program” that includes border check points.)
And I told the Hobbs (NM) Sun newspaper that all this is designed not only to benefit the illegal immigrants here, but offers tremendous spiritual benefit to all Americans who choose to get behind these initiatives to help.
Initiatives like the Annunciation House in El Paso, Texas. On a stop there to meet with the director, we learned Annunciation House is a homeless shelter and transitional living facility for new arrivals here (both legal and illegal). It is subsidized by churches and private individuals interested in promoting social justice.
Our administration would also point to projects like Eunice, New Mexico’s Hispanic Council. On a stop in Eunice during a “Border Tour,” we learned this ad hoc, grassroots citizens’ project is designed to help new arrivals with entering the work force, social service options, education… (The Hispanic Council model would work in any town.)
To help with sustainability south (and north) of the border, we would point to the non-profit “International Good Neighbors Council,” which has 28 chapters, half in the U.S., half in Mexico. In Carlsbad, New Mexico, we met with director Stanley Evans. He explained each chapter backs a charitable project in the other country.
And it was to the country of Nicaragua that Minnesota’s Ed and Betty Bryce went with other members of their Catholic church, as part of a “Sister Church” project. Ed told me in the small, rural town of San Pedro (where there is no running water, no electricity, no sewage system…) they helped with several building projects.
We have traveled the country extensively learning about similar “Sister Church” projects between the U.S. and Mexico, El Salvador, Haiti, Guatemala… I told the Grand Rapids Herald newspaper in Minnesota that there is no reason why “every church in America can’t develop a Sister Church.”
And there is no reason more families can’t do what the McCarthy family did. On a stop in Holbrook, Arizona, we learned that Bob McCarthy (as a youth) and his family went to Costa Rica for two years to help train mechanics and equipment operators to repair and build a series of rural roads as part of an AID project.
The list goes on…
But the point is, our nation is capable of mobilizing a lot more help for nations south of the border. And our administration would try to inspire this.
*And more, we believe we should move far, very far, away from our current American protectionist orientation. So far in fact, that we believe we should establish a “North American Union,” like what’s evolving with the European Union.
We believe by letting the borders come further down with this type of “union,” it would promote much more: joint environmental conservation projects, joint business ventures, cultural exchanges… In all this, we believe relations would improve, and we would move closer to a “globalization” that would be much more about the common good – than just economics and political power.
Note: We believe there should still be some form of Border Patrol in relationship to national security when it comes to protecting against, say, terrorists or illegal drug smugglers… But we believe we have wasted all sorts of manpower and money on trying to stop people simply coming here seeking a safer, more secure life.
3) Face of Abject Poverty South of the Border
There are some 12 million illegal immigrants in this country from Mexico and Latin America in general. A majority of these people have come here to escape dead-end abject poverty or volatile political strife in their countries.
At an immigration rally in Flagstaff, Arizona, I told protestors we’d been to the dusty streets of Juarez, Mexico to look at this poverty first hand. And what we saw was 200,000 people living on the west side of Juarez in cobbled together shacks of scrap wood and rusty corrugated metal.
There was no running water, no electricity, and young children roamed the streets as both their parents worked at multi-national corporations for $3 a shift – in a country where the inflation rate is higher than America.
The children were hungry.
Many risk climbing or skirting the border fence to come to America, so they can feed their children.
Tragically, some don’t survive the crossing. More than 400 – that border patrol could count – died in the deserts of the Southwest before (or after) getting to the fence in 2005. According to a USA Today article, those that get lost, or stranded, in the desert eventually die of heat exhaustion. Their temperatures go to 107 degrees. They then become disoriented, then delusional, as all their organs shut down.
And again, these are often Moms, Dads, and others who are desperate for help.
4) Unjust Laws
During a tour of southern New Mexico, I interviewed a retired Border Patrol agent. The agent, who requested anonymity, said he worked along the border for 32 years in southern California.
He said during this time he pulled a good number of bodies of men, women, and some children out of the All American Canal near Colexico, California, in the aftermath of failed crossings.
This former agent told me candidly that he thought it was a shame, because it was his experience the Hispanics were generally “good, honest and hard working people” who were just trying to better the situation for themselves and their families.
Given this, I asked about whether he had felt qualms about helping capture and deport these people.
He said no, because he was first sworn to “uphold the law” that the American people wanted.
It is our belief that sometimes the law of the land is simply unjust. The laws allowing slavery were wrong. The laws protecting abortion, we believe, are wrong. And, again, we believe the laws around illegal immigration are wrong.
And it is our belief we must stridently work to protest such laws, including, at times, using things like non-violent civil disobedience (as the Civil Rights Movement demonstrated, for example) to bring more attention, awareness, and ultimately, change around an issue.
5) Help in El Paso
Those who make it to America as new arrivals (both legal and illegal) often struggle to get a foothold.
We traveled to El Paso, Texas, to meet with Rubin Garcia who is the director of Annunciation House, a homeless and transitional shelter for legal and illegal immigrants who have been in America a short time. Annunciation House is located in a hardscrabble area of El Paso. There is no sign.
Garcia has been here 28 years. He pointed to the poverty in Mexico and the wars in Central America as some of the main reasons for the influx of illegal immigrants.
He said Annunciation House is funded by donations by a loose network of churches and private individuals who are concerned about social justice issues: Issues like people fleeing death squad bullets and getting here with no money, no belongings and no grasp of the language.
While I was doing the interview with Garcia, our children played with a two year old Mexican girl and my wife Liz sat with her mother. A Jesuit volunteer here from Iowa for a year explained the Hispanic woman was a single mother who had recently left Mexico because of the poverty. She spoke no English and the child was in a tiny, threadbare dress.
Garcia said he didn’t see the rationale for sending people like this woman back. But rather he thinks it’s our responsibility to help.
I think so too.
This was one of the Juarez families. Many people work in the multi-national factories here for a mere $3 a shift. Not an hour, but an eight-hour shift! What's more, $3 buys very little in Mexico. To turn our back on these people, to "build the fence" higher is, well, unconscionable. (photo by av. Joe)
In Juarez (the "murder capitol" of Mexico) we toured a slum of some 200,000 people. Families were squeezed together in these cobbled together shacks with no running water, no electricity and little food. There were few cars anywhere. I included this picture because of the compact car gives scale to the actual size of the shacks.
(photo by av. Joe)