Here I am with my immigration form
It’s big enough to keep me warm when a cold wind’s coming
This is a fascinating article on President Bush’s Immigration proposal and the high cost to the states if he gets his way:
LANHAM, Md. â€“ For Sergio and Rebecca, life in this working-class suburb is crammed with 80-hour workweeks at Wendy’s and McDonald’s, squeezed into the dingy two-bedroom apartment they share with 10 other illegal immigrants, and weighted with melancholy about their children far away in Mexico.
In early January, however, a new immigration proposal from the White House lifted spirits at their run-down apartment complex just outside the Capital Beltway, where during the past two years immigrants from Mexico have crowded into nearly half the 320 units. Most of the immigrants who live there are in the United States illegally. Many â€“ like Sergio, 33, and Rebecca, 25 â€“ have children back in Mexico whom they desperately want to bring to the United States.
President Bush’s plan would grant temporary legal status to Sergio and Rebecca because they already have U.S. jobs.
Most important to the couple, however, is a provision that would allow them to bring their children to live with them.
The hopes of this immigrant family illustrate a rarely mentioned feature of the Bush proposal, which is expected to get its first congressional hearing before a Senate committee this month. Many of the millions of immigrants who would get temporary work visas under the plan would bring their children, causing added strains on schools, community health agencies and housing.
Jeffrey Passel, a demographer at the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C., predicts that a large-scale legalization program would trigger a major influx of children â€“ probably hundreds of thousands â€“ to join their parents.
Although nobody knows for certain how many illegal immigrants have children in their native countries, Passel estimates there are already 1.6 million undocumented immigrant children in the United States and 3 million U.S.-born children of undocumented parents.
Indiana University professor Jorge Chapa, who has studied immigrant communities in California and Texas, warns that the immigrant parents themselves will face daunting, child-rearing challenges.
“When you have parents working around the clock to make ends meet, that means the kids will be left to raise themselves, to a large degree,” Chapa said. “If you look at conditions that cause kids to become gang members, they have a marginalized existence, marginalized from their families and from their schools.”
The schools in Prince George’s County, where Sergio and Rebecca’s children would be enrolled, already provide summer programs for students learning English as a second language, or ESL. Seventy percent of the children are Hispanic; 60 percent qualify for free or reduced-cost lunches because of their parents’ low incomes.
“We get some federal grants, but the needs far outweigh the money the feds allocate,” said Supreet Anand, who runs the county’s ESL program.
County spokeswoman Lynn McCawley ticked off the expenses: ESL teachers, parental liaison, translation at PTA meetings, newsletters printed in Spanish and English.
“It gets costly,” said McCawley, who doesn’t expect the federal government to step up to meet the costs of federal immigration policy.
“I’m sure they’ll fund it as well as they do the No Child Left Behind law,” she added with a touch of sarcasm. “That’s an unfunded mandate.”
Doesn’t she understand that he needs those Hispanic votes this November?
Go read the whole thing.