Having not followed the amendments to the current immigration bill as closely as I would have liked, I asked a friend of mine from seminary for his thoughts. I think he offers a pretty concrete and reflective perspective, so I thought I would share (the translated version):
The immigration law does not look good. You have to understand that even after all of the amendments about who can apply and request residency or citizenship—the resultant is staying on a waiting list almost indefinitely (remember that this lay looks at the individual, there are not family petitions, it eliminates immigration based on family ties, it’s through a point system that people are able to “win” immigration possibilities. This part of the law will be applied after securing the border (that which, obviously, will never happen). First, secure borders, then immigration. Additionally, you should know that the temporary worker program was cut from 400,000 (I believe annually) to 200,000, on the one hand this is far from the quota of requests that businesses (American) make, on on the other hand, it is a system of temporary workers who will be limited in their labor possibilities because they can only work for one employer. In actuality, this means that an employer can confiscate passports and documents and confine the workers to one inhumane place for living and working. As of now, there are not government workers who supervise the employers of temporary workers, which means that the employers can abuse the workers. They can’t leave their place of work, which in many cases is the same place where they live, they aren’t allowed to manage their own money, they can’t leave to go shopping, they eat what they are given, in a way it’s a new form of slavery. This situation will not improve under the new law. It’s rather complicated. I agree with those who say that this new law will create a permanent sub-class of workers who are poorly paid and abused.
On the other hand, it won’t stop immigration. Immigration is a problem of poverty. In fewer than ten years we will have a problem that is even worse.
The democrats don’t know what to do. In the beginning, they were firm on having a process that would be quick and clear toward citizenship; since they started with the restrictive amendments, which has almost completely eliminated the possibility for short term road to citizenship, their position has changed. The latino votes they hope to have from the millions who are legalized have gone up in smoke because the government will not be legalizing others—neither all of them, nor quickly. In that case, they will not get Latino votes in the short run for the democratic party. Now, they are trying to get the votes just for the next election. The sad thing is that they already lost Iraq and getting the troops out and it looks like they will lose with immigration as well. Kennedy has tried to maintain the minimum of the originally proposed bill. Though I could be mistaken. Latinos deserve something better. It seems to me that the majority of national Hispanic organizations are now against the law as it currently stands. I believe they are out of money to continue paying for professional lobbyists. The law does not represent family reunification, a road to citizenship or residency, and sets forth a complicated and limited program for guest workers.
This is what I can tell you for now. It’s not very encouraging. Hispanic people do not look well on a temporary worker’s permit for those who are here. As far as they can tell it’s a means of control so that the government can know who’s who and where they are so that later it’s easier to deport them—that’s because this permit is not connected to an authorization for permanent work. It’s safer to continue with things the way they are now.