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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

December 4, 2004

Written by C.N.

Bush Proposes Reforming Immigration Laws

Orignally posted Jan. 2004

The President recently unveiled a plan to reform the U.S.’s immigration laws to allow undocumented workers to stay in the U.S. as “guest workers” in jobs that U.S. workers do not want, for a period of three years, during which time they could also apply for a green card and become a permanent resident. I find this is to be a very interesting political situation because of all the different competing factions that have an interest in this proposal.

Specifically, conservatives and Republicans seem to be split on this proposal — many say that in effect, this plan would offer amnesty to illegal aliens and would reward those who came here illegally and technically, are therefore criminals. On the other hand, businesses strongly support such a plan, which would enable them to continue paying their largely Mexican workers less money than American workers, and would free them from worrying about their workers’ legal statuses.

Americans come in many colors © S. Meltzer/PhotoLink & Getty Images

Of course the Democrats, who are traditionally strong supporters of immigrants’ rights, don’t think the plan goes far enough. They feel that regardless of someone’s legal status, if that person has been law-abiding and has contributed to the nation’s economy through hard work and paying taxes, s/he should be allowed the opportunity to become a legal permanent resident and eventually a U.S. citizen. Recent public opinion surveys show that most people do not support Bush’s plan — many think that immigrants take jobs away from U.S. workers and that too many immigrants come to the U.S. each years.

How does this plan affect APAs? At first glance, it doesn’t appears that it affects them much at all, since very few are here illegally, at least not compared to the proportion of immigrants from Mexico and Central America who are undocumented. However, many Asian businesses owners would probably benefit under this plan, since many of them employ large numbers of low-wage Latino workers. At the same time, several APA organizations have criticized the plan for not addressing backlog of family reunification immigration applications, which tend to be more important to the APA community.

My personal opinion? While I support the concept of granting “amnesty” to undocumented workers, I think the specifics of his plan would in effect, create a permanent underclass of low-wage workers whose legal status will still remain in limbo. Perhaps not surprisingly, I support the Democrats’ proposals of granting them amnesty and giving them the opportunity to become American citizens.


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Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Bush Proposes Reforming Immigration Laws" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2004/12/bush-proposes-reforming-immigration-laws/> ().

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