Immigration Bill

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Arizona Senator John McCain has joined Senator Ted Kennedy and Arizona Congressmen Jim Kolbe and Jeff Flake to propose a bill that would allow foreign workers to get temporary work visas and allow those already in the country illegally to apply for permanent resident status. Le Templar of the Tribune newspaper provides details of the bill.

>>José Cárdenas:
Tonight on "Horizonte," a bill has been introduced in congress that would allow foreign workers to get temporary work visas and allow those in the country illegally to apply for permanent resident status.
We'll tell you more about that bill. Plus, Mexican president Vicente Fox is facing some heat for saying that undocumented immigrants from Mexico will do jobs that "not even Blacks will do." Tonight, a discussion about black/brown relations. That's up next on "Horizonte."

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>>José Cárdenas:
For the first time since 1872, Los Angeles has a Hispanic mayor. Antonio Villaraigosa beat incumbent mayor James Hahn 59 to 41%.
It's the first time since Cristobal Aguilar was mayor of Los Angeles when it was just a small town over a hundred years ago that a Hispanic has been elected mayor in the city of angels. Three Arizona lawmakers are among those sponsoring a bill to deal with America's border crisis. Senator John McCain and congressmen Jim Kolbe and Jeff Flake are among those sponsoring the "Secure American and Orderly Immigration Act." The bill would create a work visa to allow foreign workers to come into the country if they have a job waiting for them.
They would have to pay a $500 fee. This H5A visa would initially be limited to 400,000 people annually. The bill would create another visa, the H5B visa.
This visa would allow people here illegally to work for six years. To apply, a worker would have to pay back taxes, a $1,000 fine and submit to fingerprinting and a background check. The worker could apply for permanent legal status, but would have to pay another $1,000 fine, undergo more background checks, and become proficient in English. The bill would also set up biometric identification cards, and an electronic system for validating the cards.
Under the bill, employers who knowingly violate laws prohibiting hiring of illegal immigrants would face fines. Here now to tell us more about the bill is Le Templar of the "East Valley Tribune." Le, thanks for joining us on "Horizonte."

>>Le Templar:
Thank you for having me.

>>José Cárdenas:
What seems to distinguish this bill from previous versions is the comprehensiveness of it. It's truly much more than just guest work, isn't it?

>> Le Templar:
That's correct. They seem to make an effort to tackle virtually every facet of the immigration issue that's been identified, ranging from border security and employer enforcement, to dealing with family issues and not only the person who has a work visa about getting their families here as well, or uniting them to federal payments for costs related to medical care for immigrants, or jailing immigrants who committed crimes, and just -- they brought all of it into one package and it's impressing a lot of people who are active in immigration issues this time around.

>>José Cárdenas:
I want to talk about some of the specifics on that, but the defenders say the "A Word" the dreaded "A" word, amnesty, is not there, but that depends on if you are talking to somebody like Jeff Flake versus somebody like Congressman Hayworth; right?

>> Le Templar:
Exactly. The key issue on amnesty is to reflect back to 1986 where in an effort to recognize the number of immigrants in the country at that time who didn't have legal status, basically, we just granted them the Blake policy, saying if you come in and prove you are not a threat to the community, that you do have an active job or you can get employment, that we'll let you stay here permanently. This time, the bill says, you have that same option, but you are going to have to payback taxes and fines and your going to have to wait at least six years before you can apply for permanent residency.
All you can apply for initially is for that work Visa, the 5B visa to have a job and stay for a limited period of time. So the supporters of the bill are claiming that's why it's not amnesty, because there is no guarantee you are going to get permanent residency, you have to wait a while in order to apply, and you are going to have pay -- you have to sacrifice something, pay a fair amount of money up front in order to do it.

>>José Cárdenas:
There are some people who will view this as too soft no matter what, but at least to people concerned about amnesty, do you think this is satisfactory to them?

>> Le Templar:
It doesn't appear to be. The reason is that in the end, the people who oppose amnesty claim that it still rewards lawbreakers, that you pay out some money, and you get a stay in this in this country even though you broke the law to get here. That's the number one concern, and they seem to be interested in finding some mechanism in law that would drive most of these immigrants who come without documentation to return to their home country first and then comeback legally. It seems unlikely, given we're looking at somewhere around 11million people in this category, and certainly what supporters of this type of bill say is unrealistic.

>>José Cárdenas:
It's not realistic, yes. Well, you've got a bipartisan effort here. McCain, Kolbe, Flake, and Edward Kennedy. The response, though, the objections come mainly from Republicans?

>> Le Templar:
It is coming from those group of Republicans who have themselves in the strong immigration control camp. They want to reduce the numbers of total immigrants coming here and discourage those who are already here from staying unless they get legal status, and I don't know -- there is some questions from some immigrants supporters, particularly among Democrats, about protection of worker rights in this bill. It doesn't really address that. It doesn't guarantee any advantages. Are they going to have access to workers compensation? Minimum wages? Some of those questions the bill seems to be silent on, that maybe will get resolved before it were to get out of the senate, but the fact that Edward Kennedy has signed on as a main co-sponsor brought a lot of people on board that weren't for the bill when McCain, Kolbe and Flake brought it out two years ago.

>>José Cárdenas:
You see the same divisions within our own delegates and people like congressman Hayworth opposing it. Are there enough Republicans like him to kill it?

>> Le Templar:
Potentially in the house there could be, given that that caucus of immigration control seems to have grown in the last couple of years. It's more Republicans - particularly boosted by efforts like the minutemen project in southern Arizona where they think there is more support out there for strong immigration control and people willing to stand up for it, they seem to be more comfortable expressing taking on new views or expressing views they held before but weren't saying.

>>José Cárdenas:
Well, even with the overlay of homeland security, it does provide an additional rationale.

>> Le Templar:
Right. The motivation of some of these Republicans, without September 11, they probably would be thinking in a different direction, but the concern about whether terrorists can get into this country because we just can't stop the flow of people crossing the border, is on the minds of almost everybody. That's -- I mean, that's the argument that Jeff Flake makes for this bill. We can't focus on stopping the terrorists if we're trying to watch hundreds or millions of people watching the border every year.
The only way we can stop that is providing them a legal way to get into this country, because the demand for a work force is there, and they are the ones providing it.

>>José Cárdenas:
Is there anything that specifically directed toward dealing with the issue of homeland security?

>> Le Templar:
Yes. There are three areas. One is it would direct for more border enforcement through U.S. of technology. An unspecified amount of increase in border agents and that sort of thing. Secondly, it would go after employers and try to crack down harder on them to keep them from hiring illegally.
It calls for a much more random audits of the businesses to verify that they are going, taking the correct steps when they are hiring people. It also would create this system, biometric identification where everybody would have to get a card keyed to you, keyed to your fingerprint or DNA.

>>José Cárdenas:
Everybody would be applicants for these visas?

>> Le Templar:
My understanding is that it would apply to anybody in the work force.

>>José Cárdenas:
Concerns about a national ID card?

>> Le Templar:
We're not hearing much about that yet. We'll here more as debate goes forward on this bill. Jeff Flake tells me that the only way to address the issue of people who have or already got employment with fraudulent cards, is to make everybody go back through the application process.
You know, basically reapply for your employment with secure and verifiable identification.

>>José Cárdenas:
Let's talk about specifics. First of all the provision that is deal with people who are not in this country but want to come here to work.

>> Le Templar:
That, of course, is the H5A visa. There would be about 400,000 of them, at least initially, and you would have to just apply from your home country, pay that $500 fee. You would go through a background check, and you have to be able to demonstrate that there is a job available for you when you came.

>>José Cárdenas:
Where does the 400,000 figure come from?

>> Le Templar:
That was the best guess of how many immigrants get into this country without documentation and take jobs every year. So they are sort of excluding the number of people who are caught at the border or discovered in the interior and deported, but they believe how many people make it to the country and get employment. That seems to be the size of the workforce that needs to be met.

>>José Cárdenas:
People who are here illegally, the fines, and there is the longer waiting period. Do you think that will actually motivate people to return to Mexico and then come through under the H5A?

>> Le Templar:
Congressman Flake and Senator McCain think that would happen in some cases. I'm a little bit more doubtful. I think if you've gone through the effort to get here, you have work, it's odds are, you'll raise the cash to pay what is necessary in order to get the work visa, and it's likely most of the people that have those work visas would eventually get permanent status.

>>José Cárdenas:
We've only got a few seconds left. Is this going to pass in this congress?

>> Le Templar:
I don't know. I think it can get out of the senate with some modifications, whether it can get out of the House is anybody's guess.

>>José Cárdenas:
Le Templar, "East Valley Tribune," thank you for sharing your information with us. Very educational.

>>José Cárdenas:
Mexican president Vicente Fox found himself in hot water last week when he said that undocumented immigrants from Mexico were doing jobs in the United States that "not even Blacks will do." The statement may be indicative of tensions that some believe exist between African Americans and Hispanics in this country. Earlier, I taped an interview with leaders from the black and Hispanic community about black/brown tensions.
Here is that interview.

>>José Cárdenas:
Let me ask both of you this question, is there tension in Maricopa County between the African American and the Hispanic communities and if so, why, Danny?

>> Danny Ortega:
The answer is yes. Politically there is tension, but Jose, I don't think that there is any more tension between the African American community and the Hispanic community than between the Anglo community and the Hispanic community as it relates to politics. The problem is, that because there is a perceived or should be an alliance, perceived by the outside community between our communities, that augments this alleged tension, but it's in my opinion, no different than other tensions we've had with other communities.

>>José Cárdenas:
George, what do you think?

>> George Dean:
Well, I think that you have to take it when you say "tension between the two communities, "there might be tension among some individuals, segments of the individuals and so forth, but I think if you look at the overall population, I don't really believe that the tension is there to the extent that the media would have you believe or that some authors would have you believe, and there is some work that is going on together. There is some things that are going on that relieves tension and so forth, and it's not -- well, first of all, I don't think you need to know that it's not a natural alliance, except from the standpoint that we are both members of minority groups and although one minority group might be larger than the other minority group or recently overtook a minority group, you still have to keep in mind we're still minorities.
When African Americans was the largest minority in this country, that did not put us in the forefront, in the seats of power, so, forth, if you will, and just because you have another minority that is now greater by I mean, by a few thousand, so forth, is certainly much greater here in Maricopa County in Arizona than it is in other parts of the country, does not mean that there is anything going to be taken away from one or the other as such.

>>José Cárdenas:
Well, the media, as you say, and the author of this book -- suggests that there is indeed tension, and some of the sources they point to are that African Americans maybe feel threatened by the rides in Hispanic numbers, or for their part, Hispanics may be resentful of the political clout that Blacks have historically enjoyed in different parts of the community.
A little later, I want to talk about that as it relates to district 8, for example and the Phoenix City Council. But, others would also point to the fact that we've had conflicts before, at least perceived conflicts, Alfredo Gutierrez running against Clovis Campbell for the state legislature. What do you say about that?

>> Danny Ortega:
That's my precise point, and that is that yes there has been competition between the black community and Hispanic community with regard to certain political offices or jobs or whatever it is, but it's been the same as it relates to the Anglo community. So what I'm saying is that we can't deny that there are conflicts there or that there's tension, but I don't believe that it has to be on the basis of race. It's got to do with how we live our lives, daily, politically, in this world of limited resources and understanding the economic and social deprivation that both groups have suffered.

>> George Dean:
And I also want to point out that competition is different than tension. We're not ready to fight each other as much as we are willing to compete in the process. I mean, Alfredo running against Clovis, that was -- that's competition. That's one running against the other, trying to get the necessary number of votes to win a particular office. That is not -- I don't see that really as a tension kind of thing, as much as I see it two minorities competing against each other.

>>José Cárdenas:
Let me ask this question before we get to some of the specifics, but should we even be talking about this? I mean, the author of Presumed Alliance, Nicholas Vaca, the subtitle says "the unspoken conflict between Latinos and Blacks and what it means for America," has been criticized for bringing the subject up, for quote, unquote, airing our dirty laundry in public. Are we serving a benefit by even discussing it.

>> Danny Ortega:
As minorities, African Americans, Hispanic community, forming an alliance to forge ahead politically, to enhance the opportunities of our communities, is something we ought to be striving for, no question.
But the reality is that we haven't always done it, and there are certain issues that we don't agree on. The bottom line is this, Jose. We need to talk about it.
We need to talk about where there is tension if there is. We need to talk about where our differences are, if there are differences, but we only need to deal with it to the extent that we can resolve the issues where we are together and resolve the issues where we differ, and leave it at that, because the more we make of this issue, the greater liability it is to our community and to our children, who we want to live together with the African American community, with the Anglo community, with whatever community. So yeah, I think we need to deal with it. We need to be careful about how far we take it without enhancing the racial strife that exists in all of our communities.

>>José Cárdenas:
Should we be talking for example about district 8, which has a rather significant Hispanic population? It's now 64% of the population, versus about 14% African American, but historically represented by a black city councilman, Calvin Goode, followed by Cody Williams and now Michael Johnson in a race where these issues were brought up, black-brown. What does district 8 mean in this regard?

>> George Dean:
I think that more than anything else, those individuals, those three names you just called, were elected because at the time that they ran for office, they were the best candidates, and that's who the people voted for.
I don't know, I did not see any tension, any fighting going on in terms of Cody winning, in terms of Calvin winning, in terms of Michael winning, versus whoever the -- their opponents were, and it just didn't happen. It was the best candidate. And all three instances, they got each of those individuals got a large majority of Hispanic voters that voted for them.

>>José Cárdenas:
And to your point, in fact, one of the most prominent leaders of the Hispanic community, supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox did endorse Johnson in that race, and she herself has enjoyed a lot of black support in her district.

>> Danny Ortega:
I agree with that, but I'd like the frame the issue a little different. I'd like to not talk about tension between African Americans and Hispanics in district 8, having resulted in Mr. Johnson's election.
I'd like to frame it from this standpoint. If Hispanics truly care about electing an Hispanic in any district, not necessarily 8,they have to get out to vote, and they fail to do so, number one. Number two, they fail to bring together coalitions to get themselves elected. This is a perfect example of where the Anglo community and the African American community, okay, have gotten together, along with some Hispanics to elect a city councilman who happens to be African American, okay? So it's a matter of getting out to vote.
It's a matter of building coalitions. It's a matter of credibility and raising money to get you elected, not because there is tension between African Americans and Hispanics.

>>José Cárdenas:
Reverend Oscar Tillman complained when we were going through the redistricting process, was quoted as complaining about the fact, or his belief that the maps that the commission was considering favored Hispanics.
George, any comments on that?

>> George Dean:
Well, that might be true, but I think that has to do with numbers. That has to do with -- when you are looking at I population in the African Americans for Maricopa County, and so forth, we're looking at 3 to 4% of the population. It's going to be very hard to curve out a district and that population is very scattered, very fragmented, all over the Valley, if you will.
So you can't carve out a district that's going to favor African American.

>>José Cárdenas:
So it's just the fact that the numbers?

>> George Dean:
That becomes even the more reason why it becomes for the two groups to be coalescing and talking about it, because we're not the enemies.
We're not enemies of each other. We're still looked upon as minorities.
They say in the -- you are now the largest minority group. They are not saying you are the one that's now in power. That didn't happen when we were the largest minority group. That's what has to be kept in its context, that numbers only work to the extent that you use that, and you take that and coalesce with others, you know. It bothers me when I look at the prison population where Blacks and browns represent perhaps 30% of the total state population here in Arizona, and we're only represented by two-thirds of the prison population.
Why? Why does that happen? And what is it that we can do about that kind of situation, the same thing is true in our education system, where we got dropouts. You know, we lead the nation in dropouts here in Arizona, and the public schools and all of the urban areas, black and brown make up the majority of the population, Phoenix Union High School District is a good example, 75% minority population in that particular district. How do we do on our test scores and so forth? What are we doing in terms of achievement? How fast are we dropping out? These are all things that we need to be dealing with, rather than talking about, individual differences and they are going to be individual differences. There are individual differences among African Americans, the same as there are individual differences among Hispanic Americans.

>>José Cárdenas:
George, speaking of education, there are some who suggest that that is actually a flash point between Hispanics and African Americans and they point to a number of examples, most recently the controversy surrounding Dr. Glasper's - an African American, his selection as the new chancellor of the Maricopa community college district. You were involved in some of that.
What was going on?

>> Danny Ortega:
It wasn't an issue of Hispanic versus African American. It was simply a group of Hispanics who whose to oppose -- who chose to challenge a decision of an institution, and the person who was the acting chancellor who happened to be African American. That's what bothers me about this debate. Nobody is going to tell me, and nobody is going to tell George that he can't disagree with the person that's in charge simply because he's Hispanic. He's got right. He should disagree. That person is making decisions is affecting his community the way he wants to see it happen. So, my position has always been, we disagree, but Dr. Glasper the acting chancellor. We did not disagree with Dr. Glasper, the African American. People who paint us that way are trying to divide and conquer. They are the people who want to see us fight. If you really bring the issue to what is going on there, it had nothing to do between black and brown, we were disagreeing and it was wrong.

>>José Cárdenas:
But there were some, wouldn't you agree, within the Hispanic community who are painting it as a black-brown issue?

>> Danny Ortega:
Let me tell you, the Anglo community does not have a monopoly on racism, okay? It cuts across all racial lines. There are people in the Hispanic communities, I'm sure there are people in the African American community, who have those problems, okay? And we can't cover it. And we can't act like it doesn't exist, but it is our responsibility as leaders of this community to number one continue to try to bring us together, understanding the differences that there are, and understanding there that there may be racial attitudes that keep us from coming together. We need to continue to work on that, number one, and number two, that we ought to try to work together on issues as often as possible and not ever let goof the possibility that we are going to disagree and that we are going to disagree publicly.

>>José Cárdenas:
George, your perception of that issue?

>> George Dean:
I think it's important to keep in mind, that we're talking about, whenever these kind of situations arise like the chancellor position there, that you are talking about individuals, you are not talking about communities. You are talking about a segment. There is always going to be a segment in the community that's going to not feel the same way as other parts of the segment feel, and I don't know that you use that to say that there is tension, there is competition among black and brown, because of one particular incident and so forth that was not in full support of everyone. You know, as I sit here tonight as an African American, I certainly do not speak for all African Americans in Arizona, in Phoenix, I don't hardly speak for all African Americans in my household. So I might have an opinion that is different than theirs, and you have the right as Dan said, in the system that we live in to go out and express that. Don't label that as the whole community being like that, label that as this group, this individual and those individuals and so forth.

>>José Cárdenas:
Let me get your thoughts on the suggestion in the media, as you put it, that a point of contention between the African American community and the Latino community is the whole issue of immigration, that Latinos are more likely, not all of them, but as a group, more likely to be supportive of measures that would make it easier to come into this country and that African Americans are more likely to be aligned with the majority white folks on this subject because they feel threatened by the possible loss of jobs that these immigrants would represent. Do you agree with that analysis, that immigration is an issue that divides the African American and the Hispanic communities?

>> George Dean:
Once again, not speaking for all African Americans, for me personally, no, it is not an issue that divides us. I want to see a fair immigration policy for every - all immigrants that come in here. I think that the country has been very lacks in terms of how they have treated European immigrants as to how they treat Mexican immigrants and so forth, if you will, how they treat immigrants from Haiti, you know, people of color seem to have a different kind of situation existing with them coming in tot his country as compared to those who come from Croatia and Bosnia and all of these other places.

>>José Cárdenas:
To see transcripts or information on upcoming shows, visit our web site www.azpbs.org and click on "Horizonte." Thank you for joining us tonight. I'm José Cárdenas. Have a good evening.

Le Templar: East Valley Tribune;

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