Finding nuanced solutions to illegal immigration by Marjorie Arons-Barron

The entry below is being cross posted from Marjorie Arons-Barron’s own blog

It’s amazing that illegal immigration has become such a hot-button issue  even where the
population of undocumented workers is negligible. In Alabama, where about 3.5 percent of the population is foreign-born, a harsh new immigration law has caused many in that population to flee, taking children out of schools, avoiding trips to the hospital, even for child delivery, fearful to report crime. A federal judge upheld the new law, but, as the NY Times asks, does this “counterproductive cruelty” make sense?

Illegal immigration is not an inconsequential issue. As the Globe’s Joan Vennochi has written, checking fingerprints of arrested suspects isn’t a “publicity stunt.”  T.C. Boyle’s novel The Tortilla Curtain, set in southern California, is a spell-binding yarn about the clash of cultures when self-described progressives come up against the complex realities of illegal immigration. I had a tiny taste of this (and, dear readers, I know it was but a tiny taste, so don’t waste your time sending outraged comments) when I was at a standstill in backed up traffic under the old stone bridge on Route 9 in Wellesley.
An old beat-up Chevy rear-ended me. In parking lot conditions, I got out of my car and walked back to suggest to the driver that, as traffic was about to start moving, we pull off at the gas station up ahead to exchange papers. He nodded. Shortly thereafter, I pulled off and watched in amazement as the driver who had rear-ended me kept going, speeding west on Route 9.

Then it dawned on me. The fellow was certainly Hispanic looking. Perhaps he was here illegally, driving without a license or without insurance. Damage to my car was negligible. But what if it were not? What if an injury had been sustained?

The point is that there are reasons for the rules of the road, both in reality and metaphorically. And people who see problems with illegal immigration shouldn’t automatically be dismissed as heartless. There is room, however, for balanced solutions.

Proposals have been filed in the Massachusetts legislature to bar state contracts with companies that hire illegal aliens (already against federal law) or that use drivers without proper motor vehicle licenses. A proposal also supports communities that want to participate in the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency’s Secure Communities Program, as three sheriffs in the Commonwealth already do. The Patrick administration refuses to participate, claiming that to do so would deter illegal immigrants from seeking help from local police.

I have no problem with a proposal to require social security numbers or federal Tax ID numbers for anyone seeking a motor vehicle registration, and increase penalties for people driving without a license or using a fake ID.

I take issue, however, with those who would bar in-state tuition for illegal residents. Many who would use this benefit were brought here as toddlers by their “undocumented” parents. Those students have grown up here and attended public schools. They are highly motivated to get an advanced education. We are not talking about their going for free, simply having to pay the lower, in-state tuition in the state in which they reside. If they get that education, they will become part of a skilled workforce and more than pay it back in taxes. Support for in-state tuition is one of the only appealing positions taken by GOP Presidential candidate Rick Perry, which, sadly and ironically, is one of the reasons his candidacy is going south.

The federal Dream Act would give certain undocumented individuals, who had come here as children and lived here for several years prior to consideration under the bill, the ability to gain legal status, either through college or military service. Aren’t these the kind of hard-working people seeking to improve themselves or serve the country, the kind whom we would want to become upstanding tax-paying citizens, to strengthen our workforce and/or our military. Aren’t they talent to be embraced? Isn’t it counterproductive to deny them the opportunity and ensure they remain part of an underclass?

Unfortunately, once seen as a step toward comprehensive immigration reform, the Dream Act has died, suffocated by hyper-partisanship in Washington. Washington gridlock has led to states passing their own immigration laws, mostly punitive, which the Obama Justice Department is now challenging.
Immigration policy should be a federal matter, and state laws should be consistent. But if states are going to act, Massachusetts should be on the right side of the issue. And that means a nuanced understanding of what is reasonable, and what is not.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

2 Responses to Finding nuanced solutions to illegal immigration by Marjorie Arons-Barron

  1. Dave Francis says:


    Pay Farm labor a decent living wage, with health care and education for their family, instead of dumping the illegal labor costs on the taxpayer. Then you will find people desperate for a job, any job will come forward to work the fields. Farmers and giant agricultural consortium’s have been underpaying illegal labor forever and along with all the special subsidies, the same as most business owners. It has been proofed that it only cost a few more cents to the consumer, for vegetable and fruit if labor for the agrarian community pay fair wages for the work done. My grandfather picked apples in Washington State as did other family members. To make ends meet after World War Two, my distant relatives in the English countryside, picked strawberries for the local farmers. Make it a national policy to implement the E-Verify bill (H.R. 2885), identifiable as the “Legal Workforce Act”. Contact your own local Senator or Representative and insist as a voter to your federal politician at 202-224-3121.

    This is just not about the farmers; it’s about meat packing plants, factories and manufacturing. Of course they don’t want to employ regular Americans-legal residents. It’s about any company owner—big or small—who wants to pay as little as possible, with no restrictions on as little they want to pay, for a person’s labor. They have violated this ‘Rule of Law’ because there have been no restrictions on prohibitions to stop them, until Lamar Smith’s H.R. 2885. Special interest groups and the radical open border activists, are currently trying to kill the federal ‘Secure Communities’ initiative. Any individual that is apprehended by the police will have their fingerprints forwarded to ICE, Homeland Security and the FBI for processing. Police data-bases can quickly assess who has been previously arrested, whether he/she is an illegal alien or not.

    Learn the facts about illegal alien costs, statistics and business corruption at NumbersUSA, Judicial Watch and American Patrol. Make every Business, Company and workplace be committed to E-Verify or face harsh consequences. No business owner, no matter who he is, should think he is above the law. That also is a constant with political figures who own grape plantations in the bread basket of central California. This is not just for Farmers and agriculture but for every business owner, so that we can put every American worker in a job and stop catering to other counties impoverished. Go further and re-enact the “Bracero Project” of 1942 with rules and regulations, arranged so migrants from across the Southern border have easier access to specific jobs. The “Bracero Program” established why the plan proved immeasurably accepted among so many migrants, for whom seasonal labor in the US presented grand opportunities, despite some of the poor conditions they often were confronted with in the fields and camps.

    Even under some poor situations they saved money, could buy consumer good, tools or an older vehicle, and returned home with new outlooks and a greater sense of self-respect.
    In places as Mexico counselors studied these positive aspects of the economic and cultural effects of bracer project. If they are retained for employment the government must oversee they are treated correctly. They have to be issued a field workers visa that terminates at the end of harvesting and a mandatory return to their own country. Only through an employment office at entry ports can these people be hired and not through third parties or recruited by less than honest business enterprises. If they remain free of any major problems while employed in the U.S., they can renew their visas. As in Mexico—every person is tracked; all the farm and agricultural workers must be tracked, so they cannot decide to drop the job they are allocated to and disappear in the American job market. The “Bracero program” seemed to work very well, until it was dismantled in 1964. Through unfettered fraud millions of illegal aliens and their families have arrived here, after the 1986 Immigration Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA)

    Eventually there was an increasing apprehension among businesses owners that the provisions within the guide lines of the program ensured the amplification of costs for the imported labor. This fair program mandated an assured level of wages, housing, food and Health care for the workers (to be paid for by the employers) that kept the standard of living above what many from across the border. Farmers and their associated Agrarian colleagues realized they could elevate their profits, by enjoying the extremely hard work in the fields, by hiring illegal aliens who are now exploited. Agriculture didn’t want to pay for the health care or schooling for their children and other benefits, as in the orderly federal “Bracero program.” They prefer the Taxpayers carry the weight of costs for the labor that they hire. Farmers already receive huge subsidies from the U.S. Government. Simple fact the farmers and all the growers of produce got greedy, for even larger profits.

    A new fair migrant worker program will never, ever be possible under the entrenched GOP establishment and many in the Democratic ranks. Illegal Immigration will never end under the elitists Republicans or Democrats who really run the House and Senate. Americans can join forces and stop the overcrowded classroom full of the children of illegal parents. Stop the suffocation in the emergency rooms from foreign nationals crowding the waiting areas. Unable to locate a job; the only reasonable answer is to ‘Self Deport’ and will no longer steal jobs, approved by businesses that hire them. A very large majority of people that come here and fall into a financial backwash owing to the original sponsor, not able to support his immediate or her immediate family members. This becomes a burden to U.S. taxpayers who end up with the yoke of supporting these people through—CHAIN MIGRATION.

    Many politicians have their own revenues in the illegal alien labor market. Only the TEA PARTY will stop the toxic pollution that emanates from Washington and the Congress.

    One Old Vet saying, “Stand next to me and you’ll never stand alone.”


  2. Dave Francis says:


    Here are the U.S. Representatives currently blocking Legislative faction on the Legal Workforce Act that requires all employers to use E-Verify, to fire illegal aliens who already are working for them: This is the time to hit hard the phones, e-mail to these lawmakers who include:

    • Speaker of the House Boehner (Ohio)
    • House Majority Leader Cantor (Virginia)
    • House Majority Whip McCarthy (California)
    • House Chairman of Ways & Means Committee Camp (Michigan)
    • Members of the Ways & Means Committee

    URGENTLY–Contact these House Representative and insist as a voter to your federal politician at 202-224-3121. Google ‘NumbersUSA’ web site that offers a free faxing system so you can directly contact the above mentioned politicians.

    These are the politicians who have ground to a halt Lamar Smith’s Legal Workforce Act (H.R. 2885) to ensure that these Republican leaders understand that IMMIGRATION IS A JOBS ISSUE and that H.R. 2885 IS a jobs bill. Inside personnel are picking up information this week in the Congress, which these GOP leaders currently plan to keep the Legal Workforce Act (H.R. 2885) from a House floor vote this fall. The GOP professes to want jobs for American Workers, then why may you ask are they are holding back on a crucial piece of legislation? Somewhere in our nation are up to 8 million employed illegal aliens, which should be in the hands of ordinary U.S. citizens and lawful residents.


    Our schools have been flooded with the children of illegal parents. Our hospitals are flooded with illegal alien families. The law says we must educate and give treatment to every sick person no matter their immigration status. But Alabama policing law shows evidence that thousands of illegal aliens are fleeing to other states, however by instituting Rep. Smith mandatory Legal Workforce Act, which includes unfettered audits of company’s jobs for illegal foreigners will collapse. Unable to get a job, the exodus will begin and American Workers will replace them.

    President Obama news conference today talked specifically about Construction jobs for repairing bridges, roads and other infrastructure, but it’s without doubt that many disreputable Contractors use illegal cheap labor. They see no wrong in hiring foreign nationals, then making honest Contractors and sub-Contractors having to compete with lower bidding on jobs without any conscious to the consequences. In any local community across the country illegal aliens are being hired instead of the legal population as roofers, framers and hundreds of other occupations, even to assist in professional jobs as electricians, plumbers and not just for manual labor. This is just but the tip of the iceberg, as within your hometown illegal workers are grouping around such locations as ‘Home Depot’ and day labor centers. They are in our factories, offices and hundreds of manufacturing companies, without any risk of detection. The mandatory Legal Workforce Act (H.R. 2885) will guarantee overtime the reduction of the illegal immigrant workforce by implementing revised E-Verify. Only the special interest lobbyists and open borders organizations who are criticizing the Legal Workforce Act (H.R. 2885), Their interest are governed by financial gain, from illegal cheap labor or more voting power in 2012.

    No jobs bill in Congress will move so many unemployed Americans so quickly into jobs as will the Legal Workforce Act. If Republicans are serious about jobs, they will pass the Legal Workforce Act this fall and put millions of jobless Americans back to work. Republicans have been in charge of the House for nine months and have done nothing to move illegal aliens out of 7 million non-agricultural jobs. The GOP leadership’s keeping the Legal Workforce Act from the House floor for a vote suggests that Pres. Obama is right about House Republicans being a “do-nothing Congress.” House leaders have been back in town and need to get a strong reality check the rest of this week that Americans anticipate them to stop the national humiliation of forcing millions of Americans into unemployment because of the federal government’s rebuttal to require verification at the workplace. Only the TEA PARTY leadership–the majority of average people will never allow another Amnesty passage through Congress, or any clandestine Immigration Reform laws.

    One Old Vet saying, “Stand next to me and you’ll never stand alone.”