by Moses Apsan, Esq.
Newark (April - 2 ) Compressive immigration reform activists have found a champion in New Jersey, the home state of Senator Robert Menendez, In an editorial board meeting with the Star Ledger Sen. Menendez discussed the meeting he had with Obama where he urged the President to move forward on immigration reform quickly after the November election. Sen. Menendez chocked up when he explained that for Latinos, immigration reform is the civil rights issue of their life. He said "(I think it's a real challenge at the end of the day not to seek progress on it and not to have progress on it)" he said. He went on to explain that most Latin Americans identify with the immigration issue no matter what their immigration status. "All of us who are U.S. citizens, all of us who are permanent residents, all of us who wear the uniform of the United States, when we hear the debates on immigration … to hear some senators saying, 'those people, those people,'" he said. "I've heard along the way what that means, 'those people.' “So for Latinos, when they hear 'those people,' when they hear the immigration debate, when they hear how it's phrased, they view that issue beyond the undocumented brothers and sisters they have, they view it about themselves and their standing in the society," according to Menendez.
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Menendes discussed a bipartisan bill introduced by Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). Their bill was opposed just prior to the historic health care vote last week. have submitted a bill that would open a path to citizenship for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States along with tougher border security and a system for employers to verify the legal status of workers." The bill would grant "legalization of undocumented immigrants, requiring them to perform community service, pay fines, pass a background check, pay any back taxes owed, be proficient in English, and go to the “back of the line” to wait for a chance to earn permanent residence"
The elements of the framework include a biometric social security card, to be carried by all workers, to prevent unauthorized workers from getting jobs. There would be more personnel, infrastructure, and technology on the border. There would be expanded interior enforcement aimed at apprehending and deporting criminals. It would require completion of the entry-exit system (US-VISIT), to determine whether visitors leave the country before their visas expire. Regarding the future admission of workers, the framework would provide green cards for foreigners who graduate with a Master’s degree or PhD in science, technology, engineering, or math. It would also provide for a number of lower-skilled immigrants, with levels depending on what is happening in the economy. Finally, the framework provides for legalization of undocumented immigrants, requiring them to perform community service, pay fines, pass a background check, pay any back taxes owed, be proficient in English, and go to the “back of the line” to wait for a chance to earn permanent residence.
According to Menendez, Immigration reform is important for the economy, in terms of not depressing wages, in terms of national security, and it’s important about who we are as a people. "Unless we’re going to deport 12 million people, which would be the most massive deportation in the history of mankind, that’s just simply not going to happen." "I personally think that comprehensive immigration reform is critically important to the nation. It’s important to the nation’s security. I’d rather know who was here to pursue the American dream versus who was here to do harm to it. I can’t do that when I have 12 million undocumented, unidentified people in the country. . . . I’d rather have these individuals, number one, be documented in some fashion so that at the end of the day, we aren’t depressing wages of other workers because there is a subterranean economy — a black market economy. . . . And I’d rather have them in a status where not only are they going to go through a criminal background check, but they’re also going to fully pay their taxes. That would be part of the equation."