Immigration reform has doubters - Tucson News Now

Immigration reform has doubters

To most of the people who have been watching or involved in immigration efforts in the past it's either "here we go again" or "we've been down this road before."

But this time may be different.

Or after two days of politicking, it may not be.

Kat Rodriguez, the program director for Derechos Humanos says "there's nothing in here I haven't seen before."

She's talking about the Gang of Eight immigration reform blueprint unveiled on Monday.

"Are we glad they're talking about it? Absolutely," she says. "Is this framework perfect. Absolutely not."

Rodriguez, like others, are concerned that the path to citizenship being offered in the blueprint is fraught with "outs."

One of the gang of eight members, Arizona Senator John McCain, says any reform must be tied to a "secure border."

That could be a game killer.

"I understand and appreciate the need for a secure border," says longtime Tucson immigration attorney Maurice Goldman, "But the question is at what point do we finally admit the border is secure enough to get to step 2."

That's echoed by others.

"The number on obstacle is going to be this 'border is secure' because it's anyone's guess to determine that," says Rodriguez.

Or they can just ignore it and hope it goes away.

President Obama unveiled his plan for reform in Las Vegas but did not mention that the path to citizenship must be paved with border security.

He said his administration has put more boots on the ground that any other administration and apprehensions at the border have dropped 80%.

That may take some wind out of the sails of those who are tying reform to security.

Or not.

McCain shot back "share the belief that any reform must recognize America as a nation of laws."

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer was not as subtle. 

"Immigration reform will not succeed unless and until we have achieved effective border security," she says.

But a secure border is not the only "out" in the blueprint.

For the 11 to 14 million illegals living here, there is a "path to citizenship" if they qualify.

But who qualifies and what are the standards are still details which have not worked out.

Rodriguez says when the last amnesty plan was passed in 1986, only three million of the estimated nine million immigrants living in the US qualified.

"How big will the box be this time? And will all 11 million fit in the box," she asks. And answers, "I don't think so."

She says the US has been criminalizing the immigrants and having a criminal record will disqualify them from becoming citizens.

She says many, if not most, immigrants have checked the box on an application form for school or a job declaring they are a citizen.

If, during a criminal background check, that's discovered, that alone is enough to keep them off the "path."

But there are others.

Even with an extensive background check and very specific requirement like learning English and passing a test, "there are still people out there who are going to say no way, we don't want this path to citizenship," says Goldman.

 

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