by Joe Shea
American Reporter Editor-in-Chief
May 25, 2007
There's a big problem for both the Left and Right in the proposed new immigration law: it's a damned good one, and the great majority of Americans think so, too. That latter observation is based on a groundbreaking poll released in Friday's editions of the New York Times, which found that by large margins Americans decidedly favor guest workers, giving a path to citizenship - albeit a long one - for illegals, and do not believe undocumented people already here should be deported.
Don't get them wrong - Americans dislike illegal immigraiion intensely, and they want it stopped, and they believe it's harmful. But they don't believe in making people who came here to work, and who work so hard, should suffer even more.
That's going to come as something of a shock to extremists in Congress who want to tear the bill apart with their bare hands, and would, if it wasn't substantially thicker than a phone book. The poll, started last Friday and completed on Wednesday, shows widespread support for the new bill's well-balanced provisions.
My own feeling - and I have been involved in the immigration debate at several levels since 1976, when I first put out a press release calling for an amnesty that could turn lawbreakers into taxpayers - is that despite some obvious hardships to people I love, the bill is strong, fair and intelligent in the way it seeks to solve the universe of issues surrounding immigration. Moreover, I believe it will be a tremendous boon to the American economy - a greater boon, even, than the discovery and propagation of the Internet and World Wide Web.
Simply put, and probably because it was crafted by people with a bipartisan spirit who represented all sides of the issue, it is the best thing the Senate has done in a long, long time. Those who hope President Bush will fail in everything single thing he does, and believe that bipartisanship in Congress is somehow evil, will be deeply disappointed by the New York Times poll.
The $5,000 fine and $2,000 in fees that illegals must pay under the proposed bill to get onto the track of citizenship is a very hefty amount for people who bus dishes, sweep floors, pick tomatoes, pluck chickens and muck out septic pools for a living, usually at or below the minimum wage. But the hundreds of undocumented people I have known over the past 20 years have always demonstrated an ability to wield their family units as a cohesive force to solve huge financial problems that more solitary American households might not resolve.
In fact, I believe that in their strong family ties, their deep loyalty to the vision of their parents, and their raw, simple courage in making what is often a 4,000-mile trip under very, very difficult conditions, they do have something very important to contribute to American society. The Times poll - which asks dozens of difficult, painful questions - demonstrates that most Americans know it. Maybe the most honest thing respondents to the poll told the newspapers in six days of interviews - and in all the earlier polls cited by the Times - is that they believe these immigrants work harder than Americans do, and take jobs Americans won't take.
It's a sorry fact of America's political life that some elected officials are so far out of touch with the realities of illegal immigration - and so in touch with their narrow right- and left-wing supporters - that they are steadfastly digging their own graves by defying what the broad American public clearly says it wants and needs: a comprehensive immigration reform bill that reads just about exactly like the one the Senate and the White House sat down for months and laboriously crafted.
This bill is the law that will work, and will be the one that's passed, because like real Americans, most of our elected officials believe in the American Dream and the people who pursue it.
Joe Shea is Editor-in-Chief of The American Reporter.