United States, Inc.
The new point system currently proposed, which drastically alters our policy away from family reunification and moves it toward educational and job skill preferences targeted by big business lobbyists, represents a radical shift in U. S. policy. Note that both uber anti-immigrant wingnut John Kyl and some elements of the business community are for it, though business community unity is cracking. This Washington Post article closes with the following quote, which represents, in my view, great understatement:
Doris Meissner, director of the Immigration and Naturalization Service under President Bill Clinton, said the point system is being proposed with inadequate analysis. "I was amazed when I saw it because it hasn't really been talked about," she said. "There's been no ground laid for this whatsoever. Point systems are known in other countries, and there is certainly a body of written material on it, but it hasn't had any careful research.
"It may be a good idea," she added, "but there isn't any evidence to argue one way or the other."
The bill as is shifts the balance against the poor, the tired, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, and makes the American Dream a Corporate American Dream, a society based on one's worth to the National Association of Manufacturers and the U. S. Chamber of Commerce. This is, in my view, a continuation in our drift away from the Bill of Rights, away from our roots as a society whose social compact was founded on a view of human rights we took as self evident. The current structure of the bill should be opposed, as it has not undergone sufficient review and public discussion. To his credit, Barack Obama seems to be willing to pick this fight:
Sen. Barack Obama ( Ill.), one of the leading Democratic presidential candidates, is serving notice that he will try to change the proposal on the Senate floor, to give a higher value to reuniting families. The Senate will resume debate on the measure when it returns next week from the Memorial Day recess.
Obama has called the point plan a "radical experiment in social engineering." In a speech last week, he said the bill "fails to recognize the fundamental morality of uniting Americans with their family members. It also places a person's job skills over his character and work ethic. How many of our forefathers would have measured up under the point system? How many would have been turned back at Ellis Island?"
There are other problems with this bill, which hopefully will be addressed, but this rather radical shift needs more discussion and scrutiny. We'll also be watching whether or not the path to citizenship, which American majorities approve, will require the sabotaging structure of a requirement to leave the country before coming back. As I wrote in an email recently (minor edits included),
Any requirement that sends people back out of the country uproots families and won't work. What's more, once they're on the outside, the system will work to keep them outside, no matter what's on the books. I base this on past professional experience with the Board of Immigration Appeals. I cannot and will not support a path to citizenship that pushes people back out of the country, because they won't go, as they know the system better than the wonks do. Requirements to leave the country effectively mean a permanent underclass. It's not progress.
I can't support these provisions in the current bill that radically alter our current policy of family reunification. The current bill is hostile to familes on more than one front.