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Another Voice: Immigration reform advocate: ‘It is time to unfreeze the status quo’

During harvest time for corn, the heavy yet melodic rhythm of “El Novillo Despuntado,” a ranchera song performed by an iconic figure for Mexican campesinos, echoes on the southern plains in Jalisco, Mexico. Juan Rulfo, the only Mexican author to write about the harsh countryside of the Jalisco region where he was raised, describes the southern part of Jalisco as an infertile, burning plain. Rulfo conceives the right description: infertile soil is the ordinary meaning of the southern lands in Jalisco. Consequently, many farmers from the burning plain have opted to try luck in the United States.

photo

Abel Cruz Flores

Why talk about immigration from Mexico? Why the Hood River Valley? Why now? These questions are clearly linked. The thousands of fruit pickers and packers in the Hood River Valley are only a fraction of the 12 million Mexicans who live in the U.S., and another small fraction accounts for the 11.5 million undocumented people, about 60 percent of whom are from Mexico. But let’s address each question in further detail.

Unfortunately, many of the corn farmers in Jalisco are unaware of the many legal ways to enter the U.S. and come to this country without documents — and others are denied a visa. Despite the sharp increase in the costs and risks of border crossing in recent years, many have made it to the Hood River Valley, where they pick pears, cherries, peaches, apples, blueberries, and even huckleberries. During cherry or pear harvest time, “El Novillo Despuntado” resonates on the meadows of Mount Hood.

The immigration debate in the U.S. remains unsolved. Politicians in Washington have decided not to act on the immigration problem; just recently, the Supreme Court deadlocked in the case challenging President Obama’s immigration plan, which would have shielded as many as five million undocumented immigrants from deportation and allowed them to legally work in the U.S.

Moreover, and perhaps most importantly, the State of Oregon has denied undocumented workers the opportunity to apply for driver’s licenses. In effect, undocumented immigrants have broken the law by crossing illegally into U.S. soil, but they are already here. In fact, this country is in need of farm workers, especially the Hood River Valley area. Only immigration reform involving both countries can fix this problem. However, denying driver’s licenses is only making the Oregon roads unsafe.

While many around the world are worried about the Republican candidate’s campaign, the concerns are particularly pointed to undocumented Mexican workers. Donald Trump has repeatedly attacked Mexicans with xenophobic comments; he has also threatened to deport the 11.5 million undocumented immigrants if elected president. Fortunately, many agree that the claims on which Trump indicts Mexicans are trumped-up: his message is a poor foundation for diagnosing and treating the illness.

The 2016 presidential election is crucial for undocumented immigrants, many of whom reside in Hood River. On the one hand, the Republican candidate supports immigration raids, and promises to build a wall between Mexico and the U.S. — and make Mexico pay for it — and on the other, the Democratic candidate acknowledges that raids are only sowing fear and division in immigrant communities across the country. While Congress continues to ignore the issue and the Supreme Court decides to keep the status quo frozen, thousands of undocumented workers fear deportation every time they get on the highways to work. In fact, they are also afraid to send their kids to school, and go to the hospital to treat their illnesses, or even to the grocery store.

But not everything is lost for undocumented workers. The Hood River Valley has welcomed those who have lost hope in Jalisco, although most employers may not even be aware that their workers are in need of work because they have lost hope in their home country. Hood River residents and farm workers share mutual benefits: farm workers make sure that no single pear is left hanging on the trees — or as pickers put it in their native tongue, ni pa’ los pájaros, “nothing for the birds” — while residents enjoy a stable economy. These hard working men and women have proven Trump wrong.

However, every orchardist in the valley would agree that labor shortages have been a big problem in recent years — there is a large demand for pear pickers. There are many reasons behind this problem, but there is one relevant reason that can be directly addressed in the State of Oregon: Many of these workers have been stopped for driving without a license, and have been put in the hands of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Once in the hands of ICE, many of these workers are quickly deported to their home country. And circularity, is almost impossible nowadays: the costs and risks for crossing the border are exponentially rising.

Although undocumented immigration from Mexico to the Hood River Valley has flattened out in recent years, many undocumented immigrants remain in the shadows. But most importantly, they remain without a driver’s license to go to work and back home.

Again, farm workers are needed in the Hood River Valley. Some of them are already here, and they can benefit from a comprehensive immigration reform, which would bring reduction in costs, danger, and oppression for those to come — and it would not necessarily entice those already in the U.S. to leave.

Politicians had their turn. November is the voter’s turn to confront the Trump emergency. It is time to unfreeze the status quo in the Supreme Court. It is time for Congress to act on a comprehensive immigration reform. Now is the time to show Trump that he is missing the value of changing voter’s minds by persuasion rather than demagoguery.

Abel Cruz Flores is a graduate student at Georgetown University, a second year Ph.D. in Spanish linguistics. He graduated from Columbia Gorge Community College Hood River Campus in 2010, paying for his education by picking fruit in the Hood River Valley. He is an advocate for immigration reform and is the vice president of the Georgetown University Graduate Association of Mexican Students (GUGAMS).



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DonHonda 1 year, 4 months ago

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2015/02/27/opposition-to-immigration-reform-is-a-winning-strategy-for-republicans/

"By any measure, fears of (Illegal) immigration are driving many white Americans to the Republican Party. And, indeed, the Republican strategy on immigration appears to have been successful. Republicans now control the House and the Senate, the governor’s office in 31 states, and two-thirds of the state legislatures. They are winning the political war."

"An even bigger factor is that the ties of racial and ethnic minorities to the Democratic Party are tenuous. Research by Taeku Lee and myself shows that most Latinos and Asian Americans don’t feel like they fit into either party. In national surveys, those who refuse to answer a question about party identification, those who claim that they do not think in partisan terms, and independents make up the clear majority of both groups. All told, 56 percent of Latinos and 57 percent of Asian-American identify as nonpartisans.

Even among blacks, there are signs of ambivalence. Almost 30 percent of blacks feel that the Democratic Party does not work hard for black interests."

http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/20151016_As_Trump_fades__be_smart_about_immigration.html#disqus_thread

"Most Hispanics aren't single-issue voters when it comes to immigration. A recent Gallup poll found that among registered Latino voters, 67 percent are at least willing to support a candidate who doesn't share their views on immigration. And 18 percent don't consider the issue important at all.

What's more, many Hispanic citizens have little sympathy for immigrants who haven't played by the rules. Especially among Latino voters born in the United States, resentment of immigrants who have entered the country illegally can run deep. Forty-two percent of American-born Hispanics disapprove of President Obama's executive actions to prevent the deportation of illegal immigrants."

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/02/12/no-joke-trump-can-win-plenty-of-latinos.html Reuben Navarette: No Joke: Trump Can Win Plenty of Latinos

Gee, No wonder why I fall into the Proud Independent group.

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DonHonda 1 year, 4 months ago

If Trump didn't exist, why he would have been invented:

https://pjmedia.com/victordavishanson/illegal-immigration-finally-turned-off-public/?singlepage=true How Illegal Immigration Finally Turned Off the Public

"Why did the illegal-immigration issue launch Donald Trump’s campaign? Why did his recent tense press conference exchange with Univision’s Jorge Ramos please even some of Trump’s liberal critics? What is it about illegal immigration that has finally turned off so many Americans?"

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DonHonda 1 year, 4 months ago

http://www.trentonian.com/20160301/neese-immigration-unmentionables

Gives one pause:

"There he goes again, the blabbermouth nativist, Donald Trump, the wall-building xenophobe.

“We have a massive poverty population coming into our country virtually every day from Mexico,” whines the guy who vows to build “a beautiful wall” along the southern border.

Oops. Beg your pardon. Misread our notes. Those actually were the words of Walter Mondale, Democratic senator, Vice President, presidential candidate, Minnesota progressive, speaking in the early 1970s."

And, so on.....

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DonHonda 1 year, 4 months ago

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/08/18/30-million-illegal-immigrants-in-us-says-mexicos-former-ambassador/ 30 Million Illegal Immigrants in US, Says Mexico’s Former Ambassador on MSNBC

http://www.msnbc.com/andrea-mitchell-reports/watch/backlash-grows-over-trump-s-immigration-plan-507691587765

"The former ambassador stated,” If you were to deport the 30 million undocumented immigrants in the United States that’s going to cost you about 130 billion dollars.”

http://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/latino/edgard-portela/2016/02/25/fiesta-new-wave-mexican-immigrants-univision Fiesta for New ‘Wave’ of Mexican Immigrants on Univision

http://www.mrctv.org/videos/fiesta-new-wave-mexican-immigrants-univision

"Despite official statistics showing immigration from Mexico is down in recent years, Univision has found an apparent exception in the case of immigrants from the Mexican state of Puebla.

ORLANDO SEGURA, UNIVISION: During the last 30 years three migrant waves of Pueblans to New York have existed. The first was in the 80’s, benefitting from the amnesty of Ronald Reagan. The second, during the economic boom of the presidency of Bill Clinton. The third, we are living through right now."

According to a recent DHS report the number of unaccompanied alien children (UACs) coming across the border has doubled and the number of family units has tripled in fiscal year 2016 compared to the same time frame in fiscal year 2015.

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-border-patrol-migrants-20160424-story.html Border Patrol sees increase in number of migrants being detained at Mexico border "The number of family members caught crossing illegally has nearly tripled compared with this time last year, and the number of unaccompanied children has almost doubled, the figures show."

http://www.cbp.gov/site-page/southwest-border-unaccompanied-alien-children-statistics-fy-2016 "The number of unaccompanied alien children (0-17 years old) that were apprehend between October 1- January 31 has doubled from 10,105 in 2015 to 20,455 in 2016. The number of family units apprehended in the same time period has almost tripled from 9,090 in 2015 to 24,616 in 2016."

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/sep/9/20-pct-illegals-caught-border-have-criminal-record/ Agents say just 40 percent of U.S.-Mexico border under control 20 percent of illegals caught at border have criminal records

"Less than half of the U.S.-Mexico border is under “operational control,” and one out of every five illegal immigrants caught there has a criminal record, the chief of Border Patrol agents’ labor union told Congress Wednesday when detailing violence that increasingly spills over the international boundary."

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DonHonda 1 year, 4 months ago

The U.S. currently has eleven non immigrant guest worker visa programs. http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/employment/temporary.html

There is no cap on the number of workers allowed into the U.S. under the H-2A temporary agricultural guest worker visa program.

http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/263529-funding-deal-hits-backlash-over-increase-in-worker-visas "The provision could more than triple the number of H-2B visas for foreign workers seeking jobs at hotels, theme parks, ski resorts, golf courses, landscaping businesses, restaurants and bars. The move is intended to boost the supply of non-agricultural seasonal workers."

http://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Resources/Resources%20for%20Congress/Congressional%20Reports/2011%20National%20Immigration%20%26%20Consular%20Conference%20Presentations/H-2A_and_H-2B_Visas.pdf

Alabama had to bite the bullet and hire LEGAL Immigrants for its AG Industry:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2012-09-24/africans-relocate-to-alabama-to-fill-jobs-after-immigration-law Africans Relocate to Alabama to Fill Jobs After Immigration Law

"East Coast began calling Atlanta refugee agencies several months ago looking for legal immigrants to come to Alabama for a year, said Mbanfu, refugee employment director for Lutheran Services in Atlanta. He said the company would have taken as many refugees as he could refer. The agency connected East Coast with refugees who had been in the country three to five years, he said."

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/workplace/2009-09-13-plants_N.htm Immigration raids yield jobs for legal workers

'When federal agents descended on six meatpacking plants owned by Swift & Co. in December 2006, they rounded up nearly 1,300 suspected illegal immigrants that made up about 10% of the labor force at the plants.

But the raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents did not cripple the company or the plants. In fact, they were back up and running at full staff within months by replacing those removed with a significant number of native-born Americans, according to a report by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).

"Whenever there's an immigration raid, you find white, black and legal immigrant labor lining up to do those jobs that Americans will supposedly not do," said Swain, who teaches law and political science."

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