You are a good person and a good friend, therefore it disappoints me all the more that you could be the one vote to sabotoge the only true chance the United States has had to reform our convoluted, outdated, and ineffective immigration policy in your 14 years in the U.S. Senate.
You are aware, I’m sure, that Texas now has the lowest unemployment rate since 1976. We need workers, whether skilled or unskilled. A fair, equitable immigration policy is the key. The present bill is as fair and equitable a compromise that we are likely to achieve — ever.
Your proposal to require illegal immigrants to return to their own country within two years of receiving a legal visa is onerous and, frankly, makes no sense. The bill now requires these immigrants, most of whom are living on the lower margins of our society, to (1) learn English, (2) pay any back taxes owed (although most have been paying into Social Security under fake SS cards, thereby enriching the Treasury with no prospect of receiving anything back), and (3)Â prove they haveÂ a job. Fair enough. But what are the prospects for holding a job when one is supposed to take off a week, two weeks, or a month (or longer) to return toÂ one’s home country to renew a visa? The recent passport messÂ created by Congress, making it nearly impossible forÂ even U. S. citizens toÂ leave and enter the country,Â is unlikely to engender much confidence in the minds of non-citizens that their applications will be handled speedily. After that experience, which should be fresh on your mind considering the torrent of complaints your office has received, what would lead you to suppose consular offices of the Department of State could process thousands, perhaps even millions, of visas that would be requested over a two-year period? In the meantime, the non-citizens stuck in the home countries will lose the jobs that qualify them for citizenship. As I said, it doesn’t make sense.
Yes, there are stupid provisionsÂ in this bill. Of them, the one forbidding employers from using the Employment Eligibility Verification System is perhaps the stupidest. Directing your efforts toward amending this provision would be a lot more worthwhile than what you seem to be concentrating on.
That said, I have great faith in your intelligence, your understanding of Texas’ labor needs, and your legislative prowness. I know this is a tough one. I know the anti-immigration forces are more vociferous and more emotional. But I also know — and I know that you know — Â that Texas needs what these immigrants have to offer.
All the best,