My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder/president of Data & Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

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why i oppose HR 4437

When i posted about the teen walkout, i wanted to highlight how excited i am that students are speaking out for something that they believe, for something that they know is wrong. Embedded in my post was my disdain for HR 4437, but i did not fully articulate my own views. The comments that followed made it clear that i need to explain why i oppose HR 4437.

The status of undocumented workers in this country is very tricky. Over the years, we have looked the other way as immigrants enter our country illegally and work doing the most grueling labor that no citizen will do. We have turned a blind eye because our economy depends on that cheap labor. Some employers have taken this to a new level and slavery in this country is at an all-time high. The abuse of immigrants is atrocious. There are no labor laws to protect them, no social security, no social services. In most places where undocumented workers live and work, there is a social contract: behave, work hard, and no one will turn you in. Undocumented workers stay because, even with these atrocious work conditions, their lives are better here than where they came from; their opportunity is greater.

Our approach is not sustainable, nor is it morally just. Thus, the question emerges: what do we do about the 20 MILLION illegal aliens living in the United States? This question is both a moral and a practical question.

Many of these people have been living in the United States for decades. They no longer have homes in their country of origin. They have children who are citizens of America. They have obeyed the laws, paid taxes and worked harder than most of us can imagine. There is nothing morally just about treating these individuals as criminals and expelling them. They have done their time, they have paid their dues. And we have always treated them like the trash of the earth.

Some people argue that these people don’t deserve to stay because they did not get visas, did not follow the rules and that it is unfair to legal immigrants. Unfortunately, this argument misses the class dynamic that is critical to the story of undocumented workers. The American visa system is set up to welcome wealthy, educated individuals into white collar jobs. Take a look at how many people get visas to work on farms, in meat packing factories or as janitors. These are not the visas that we offer; most undocumented workers are not eligible for the visas we do offer.

Once an individual is in the United States illegally, it is very difficult for them to begin the process to become a citizen. You cannot apply for a green card if you are here illegally. Thus, there are people who have been here for 20 years and have not taken the steps to become citizens; they have simply worked hard to remain undetected because they do not know of a better way.

HR 4437 is not the answer. While the adjustments to penalties for child abuse and other atrocious acts are logical, what makes HR 4437 problematic is actually its adjustments to employment. By requiring mandatory employment identification, people who have been working in this country for decades will be forced out of jobs with no recourse. This section aims to starve out the population, to force law abiding undocumented workers to leave. Certainly, there will be an even darker underground and many desperate undocumented workers will be forced to turn to more dangerous work in an attempt to stay in the country. There is no doubt this will also increase gang activity and other illegal activities. Racial tensions will rise and violence will erupt, all because of desperation.

I can respect that we need to move to an above ground market, but we cannot turn our backs on those who have been working hard for years. We need to provide ways in which law abiding undocumented workers can come forward without fear of expulsion and apply for citizenship and visas. As we move towards an above-ground system, we need to temporarily forgive undocumented workers for certain crimes committed out of desperation to stay in the past (such as social security number fraud).

I am also very concerned about the sections on “gangs.” What is the legal definition of a gang? It worries me greatly that people can be deported or refused admission for presumed association with gangs. It also worries me that the Attorney General can designate any group or association as a street gang. (Why do i have a sneaking suspicion that i would be considered a gang member for my affiliation with Burning Man?) I completely understand why the government wants to deport people for illegal activities, but i worry about the guilty until proven innocent framing of this section of HR 4437. And i really worry about the guilt through association implications. Didn’t we learn anything from the McCarthy era?

People ask why it is so significant that teens walked out. These teens are legal; they are citizens. They are speaking out for a population that is silenced, a population that cannot be visible. They are doing so on school hours because that makes the most impact. Even with the knowledge that they will be fined and given detention, they walked out. Frustrated teachers argued that this is foolish, that their parents came here to give them an education and they aren’t even trying. While these teachers have the best intentions, students have a better grasp on reality. They know that their parents are at risk of being deported. They know that they are mostly not eligible for good jobs that depend on an education; they are going to do the kinds of work their parents do. They are living a working class reality and are completely alienated from it. It is the saddest aspect of our failed education system and our unacknowledged class hierarchy.

Unfortunately, this political regime is doing an amazing job of approaching world politics with brute force and xenophobia. HR 4437 is no different. No wonder the world hates us. I am glad people are thinking about how to handle undocumented workers; i just wish that folks would have more compassion and understanding of the dynamics and lives of people who have worked fucking hard to fatten our privileged asses. Most undocumented workers are not criminals and they should not be treated as such. They are good people, trying really hard to make their lives and the lives of their families better.

On a personal note, i spoke with a neighbor about this bill. She’s been here illegally for almost a decade; she has two small children that she works hard to support. When i brought it up, her eyes got wide with fear. I told her not to worry, that i am on her side; this gave her much relief. It is clear that she’s very scared. She told me she didn’t understand this bill. She pays taxes, she works hard, she obeys laws, she is trying really hard. She doesn’t know what to do. I wish i could tell her not to worry, that everything will be OK. But i have to admit that i’ve lost faith in the humanity of this country.

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43 comments to why i oppose HR 4437

  • ZF

    “i have to admit that i’ve lost faith in the humanity of this country.”

    While you’re at it why don’t you admit that it was never really there in the first place? This country was not built by people like you, willing to turn on it at the drop of a hat for a different reason on just about any given day.

    Name one thing worth more than a cup of Starbucks coffee you have ever given up for your country. You’re a certified member of the part of the country whose entire contribution is to sit in judgement, don’t you think?

    Don’t you remember how those people sounded in high school?

  • bob rodney

    “i have to admit that i’ve lost faith in the humanity of this country.”
    I don’t understand why you would have it in the first place. It’s a country, not a human, and doesn’t act like one, and shouldn’t be expected to. Countries are run by politicians, generally not the best of humans, but in a democracy we think that we can keep them in check, and indeed in generally that works reasonably well. Right now we have a completely Republican government, but even so the neocons are facing unexpected opposition on a few issues from within their own party. So not all hope is lost yet.
    At the same time, I’d have to admit that the US does have its problems, and one of them is a sort of deep denial about many things, and an escapist mentality, probably arising from actually having a frontier to escape too, back in its formative days. We do have illegal immigrants, and it’s just something we will have to live with, because nobody else wants to do those jobs, and because conditions in Latin America are bad enough that there are plenty of people willing to get any sort of work at all. Of course, given the many interventions that the US has made in Latin America in the past…. well, it’s not entirely blameless in that situation either.
    The US also has, despite all its own national myths, a class system, and the easiest way to get rich is to be born to the right parents (see: our president). However, the only way to deal with these problems is to face up to them, rather than pretend they aren’t there, or that they are something else, or if you just pass this law they will go away. And yet that’s what they’ve been trying, at least from the times of Prohibition.

  • Isaiah Damron

    ZF,

    I will assume you’re not just trolling for the sake of this response, because your post actually made me think.

    It’s an interesting point you raise. It did make me question my beliefs about the country, to wonder whether I’ve ever really had faith in this country doing the right thing.

    The thing is, if the people like me (and like danah) didn’t have some sort of hope, we wouldn’t bother sharing our views for the world to see, because we’d believe that it wouldn’t change anything. And there is nothing wrong with sharing views on what’s wrong with your country. Isn’t eternal vigilance the price of freedom?

    But you do have a point, that, at some point in our complaints, we should take the time to consider some of the great things about the country as well. So, don’t be fooled that the public image we present exactly represents our views. We view the negatives as more critical than the positives, because, for the most part, the positives are only positive if they’re here to stay.

  • I can’t and won’t even try to speak for danah, but in response to ZF, I too have lost faith in the humanity of the people that compromise this country!

    What have I given up? Over 20 years of my life in the military and, in fact, they still own me for another 18! My son has given up 7 of his so far, to include a combat tour in Iraq. He feels the same way I do on this.

    I’m not asking for your sympathy or anything else. I did it so that people like danah, and even spiteful people like you, and every other American can say (almost) whatever they like, along with the right to exercise all of your various freedoms. The country does not ask, nor does it require everyone to serve. But it should, although sadly does not, require us to be active and engaged citizens.

    Seemingly not to you, but to me, danah is doing just that. She is actively trying to give voice to several groups in our society who have little or no voice at all. For that I highly respect her! And, yes, critique and criticism of what you value is highly important, particularly when it is under vigorous attack.

    If you don’t want to respect the views of someone who differs from you, then there are plenty of places in the world you might be happy. Or maybe, you are one of those who are trying to turn our country into one of those places.

    While I will defend your right to express yourself, I will actively fight your efforts to turn my country into a place where those rights are no longer available.

  • Well said Isaiah! Your’s was a much more positive response than mine; but after giving up so many of my own freedoms for over 20 years so that others could have them, I get very, very testy when someone else trying to act as a “true American” wants to shut down the voices of others, or advocates for the removal or restriction of our other Constitutionally guaranteed rights.

  • Edo

    The concept of borders is archaic. We are/will be a global village. “what have you given up for your country?” …please 🙂 Try spectator sports for that frat-boy attitude.

  • Excellent post, Danah. I appreciate your thoughtful address of this issue. It is a complex one as you say. As such, most simply echo their partyline. It is nice to hear a personal spin time and again.

  • Sacrifice for ones country is only half of the equation. The nature of sacrifice makes it easier to measure than other types of contributions to society. i.e. If a person joins the military and puts their life in danger that risk becomes the tangible currency which is used to measure a person’s contribution to society.

    $3 latte’s aside, I do realize the energy/time it takes to consider this post and respond with my own point of view is far less romantic than having an RPG hurled at my helicopter. However, considering the evolution of ideas in a forum like this one, it is exciting to observe groups of people exercise a skill to focus their language on specific issues. This combined with the internet habits of a growing population will undoubtedly start to shape public policy. If I only had 9000 friends in myspace I could form my own lobby.

  • “brute force and xenophobia”
    How I wish that wasn’t our battle cry for a new century.

    Excellent response, Mark. Thank you for the post and for your service.

    While I will agree with ZF that too many of us (myself certainly included) have given up too little to make our country better, our country was built by people willing to turn on their government when they saw it was unjust.

  • JF

    I agree with you on a practical level that amnesty should be granted to those already here. There is obviously no practical way we can deport or detain the 12(20?) million illegal immigrants. Yes, they are illegal, and many if not the majority of them are not “undocumented”. There’s quite a difference between no documentation and false documentation. There should be SOME penalty, if just a minor penalty that these people should suffer; they broke the law and should face some consequences. Your neighbor, while her motives might have been noble was not faced with instant death if she didn’t sneak into the United States and falsify her documentation. It was a choice they made, and there needs to be some sort of consequence even if it’s just symbolic.

    I however, think that this entire debacle is really a failure of the laws and regulations to be able to to keep up with the demand for low wage workers that has been constantly filled by an ever increasing migrant population. It should be easier for Mexican citizens to enter into the US to find work. The borders need to be more secure; allowing more DOCUMENTED come and go between the countries will be good for our economy, the security of the borders, individual Mexican citizens, and the economy of Mexico.

    The problem I have with your post is, frankly, the braggardly notion that this entire thing has anything to do with Xenophobia. I, like Mr. Barak Obama said yesterday, amd not willing to take on faith the notion that illegal immigrants are taking jobs that US citizens will not take. There’s every reason to believe that those extremely low paying jobs are taken by a contantly refreshing stream of illegal immigrants, wheras those immigrants who have been in the states move up the social ladder and find good working class jobs.

    Is it Xenophobic to be offended when students protesting harass Mexican Americans who are waving the US flag during the rallies? Is it Xenophobic to be offended that the American flag was put upside down and below a Mexican flag outside a California High School. I don’t have the least problem with trying to work to find a solution that allows more immigrants the freedom to come and work and stay in the United States; but the flagrantly anti american sentiment voiced during the marches offends me and other Americans on an emotional level.

    I owe this tasty Starbucks primarily to my PARENTS who were intelligent enough to make sure that they raised me right and sent me off to college so that I could afford the finer things in life like cell phones and higher taxes.

  • I have written both my Congressman and Senator opposing this bill as well. Have not heard back from any of them, it will probably be atleast a week or two but will let you know how it goes!

  • meh

    are you dumb communists looking forward to losing another election 2008 to some dumbass neocon? get used to it.

  • Mnemosyne

    Actually, most of the people protesting in this area dont even know what they are protesting for. There is not enough information on the bill available to people.

  • “They have obeyed the laws, paid taxes and worked harder than most of us can imagine.”

    You are mistaken about this on several levels. Illegals often violate many laws you may not be aware of. All states require you to have an updated id within a certain mumber of days of taking up residence in that state. Obviously it is a minor issue but that would be two laws with in days of arrival they have violated.

    I’m sure you are also aware that many illegals do not insure the vechiles they drive because they are unable to get insurance because they can not legally register thier cars and trucks. Why? Because you have to prove you are a legal resident in most states to even get a DL.

    As for the taxes you claim they pay. I am sure there are some that actually pay taxes but the majoirty never will pay an income tax because they will be working for cash off the books.

    I could go and on about the laws they violate but really I doubt you would see the error of you opinion posted.

  • Laura

    Woa, what kind of comments are these?

    First of all, I would like you all to know that I am Colombian and I am legally living in the US by assylum, but you all should actually KNOW what you are talking about before you even open your mouth.

    For most of you who think “immigrants” are only those who come illegally from the other side of the Mexican border, you are a bunch of ignorants.
    Sure, there are lots of mexican immigrants crossing the border, but south of that same border is a huge continent called South America. And no, not all hispanics are Mexican. Take a geography course before saying that. Canadians aren’t Americans, are they? No. Costa Ricans, Colombians, Venezuelians, Peruvians, Brazilians, Salvadorians, Argentinians… All those are NOT Mexican.
    Apart from that, Hispanics are not the only illegal immigrants in this country. There are Asians, Haitians, Africans, Russians, most mostly Europeans. So before you ASSUME that immigrants are Hispanic, think again, because you might be wrong.

    Now, we you all talk about how hard it must be for the immigrants in south america, etc. you have NO IDEA. We have come to the US because this is the country where there is safety and there is a bigger job opportunity. My mother was kidnapped in Colombia, that is the biggest reason why I moved here with my parents. But don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that the US is guilty of this, and therefore it should help immigrants, but for SOME reason they came out of the country. If they send them back, they would have put them in a death sentence automatically.

    Anyway,
    I think that either way, the government is the one that’s going to make the final decision.

  • Thank you for your fascinating blog and other sites. I have added your blog to the hallowed halls of my own blog roll. I support what you are doing, and wish you well in your studies.

    I also support your stance on the walkouts.
    Yours,
    Jim

  • Hi Danah,
    We don’t need any immigration laws or borders. What we need is strict enforcement of minimum wage and other labor laws, trade agreements that require other countries to gradually increase their minimum wages and wage enforcement so their workers can earn as much at home as they can by staying here, and most of all, we need to stop extracting all the wealth of the world and moving it here. Of course labor will follow the money. If, for example, NAFTA hadn’t caused the elimination of hundreds of thousands of family farms in Mexico, there might be a few hundred thousand people still tilling corn instead of standing at 26th & Capp trying to get work tilling a yuppie’s garden.

    In short, like most seemingly intractable problems (drugs, kiddie porn, etc), the solution is to reduce demand (force employers to give min. wage to everyone, putting Americans on an equal footing with the undocumented) and offer options for suppliers (the people who currently sell their labor here who might prefer to be doing something else). If interdiction is the only strategy, we’re doomed.

  • bo

    JF, if i may share some ideas that may assist you in developing a meaningful perspective about the issues you had with this posting:

    #1 – why do you suppose these protesting students are expressing “anti-American” sentiments? could they possibly have felt offended themselves due to the implications of HR 4437? i believe we agree, it clearly dehumanizes undocumented immigrants and does not provide “a solution that allows more immigrants the freedom to come and work and stay in the United States;” nor does it strengthen the “security of the borders, individual Mexican citizens, and the economy of Mexico”?

    #2 – i’m unclear on how and why you believe there would be “every reason to believe that those extremely low paying jobs are taken by a contantly refreshing stream of illegal immigrants, wheras those immigrants who have been in the states move up the social ladder and find good working class jobs.” a study conducted a few years back revealed that the notion of social mobility was a fallacy and an illusion. over the past 50 years, those whose incomes reflected achievement of upward mobility were drastically declining and only a very low percentage rose a maximum of 1 class level. a 2 tier jump from below poverty (the condition in which the majority of undocumented workers live) to working class, or higher, is extremely rare. and logically so: they are undocumented and they could not be competing for the same blue-collar/union/working class jobs that usually require some level of education, training and/or experience for the position that a citizen or permanent resident can compete for. a language barrier may be an especially salient issue that impedes upward mobility. working 12-16 hour days or 2/3 jobs earning below minimum wage does not often provide someone an opportunity to build their skills and knowledge base outside of their present job(s).

    #3 – many of these undocumented immigrants taking the risks they do to enter the US, enduring the conditions they do in order to obtain whatever work they can find, may also be parents (or hope to be parents) who are also intelligent enough to know opportunities to provide their (future) children “tasty Starbucks,” “cell phones,” a college education, “higher taxes” and “raise [them] right” are more likely to be had in the US. not only are they intelligent, with the understanding of the difficulties and repercussions of undocumented migration, they are courageous, hopeful and self-sacrificing for all that they stand to have to endure.

  • Bill

    Immigration is fine as long as it is done legally.
    Illegal aliens’ immigration is unacceptable.
    Immigrants arrive here thinking they are immune
    to our laws or want the laws broken just for them.
    Illegal immigration is a crime, you know. We
    don’t need people who have stolen identification
    from U.S. Citizens, anything from driver’s
    licenses to birth certificates and pass it off as
    theirs. By the way, only 13% of these illegals
    WORK at jobs the U.S. Citizen DOESN’T want.

  • ZF

    Isaiah,

    I’m glad I made you think for a moment about the effort it took to build this country, and whether those who did it deserve a little respect, and a thought about whether we or people like us could have done as well as they did.

    The truth is that I’m an immigrant myself. Those of us who came from places which are less free, and in which one can have considerably less faith of any kind, have our own perspective on this.

  • Your post is lucid and beautiful, Danah. I’m from Brazil and I know lots of brazilians who are in the USA right now working hard and with no perspective of coming back because of all the reasons you know. It looks like you are very much aware of the details of who are they and who are you (USA), which is, with all respect for the americans, not much common.

    Krishnamurti once said that the one and only problem with politics is that nobody is interested in the unity of humanity. Your post addresses exactly that, the unity of humanity. Let’s be peaceful and intelligent, after all, the situtation is bad for both and good for both. Let’s not turn our backs and make laws, let’s accept this reality and do something human about it. I believe the end result of this can be even better for both.

    USA is a great country, and it’s greater when it’s not fundamentalist.

  • Angela

    I am a Republican who will not stand by and watch my country be destroyed by people who should not be here. Millions of people day in and day out was come to this country the right way and put in their time when it comes to aquiring their citizenship. Amnesty for 12 million people is not the answer and as far as I am concerned ANYONE that is illegal should be sent back……… I dont care if their children were born into this country, if they were they need to have their citizenships taken away and their families made to go back and never return……. If you can not enter this country the right way then dont come at all……………………

  • Sam

    Angela: Illegal immigration is bad, I agree. But what we need to do is improve immigration and work with those Mexicans who wish to immigrate. Frankly, all these people want is a better life for their families. Isn’t that the American Dream?

    You overreact. “Destroy the country?” The only thing this situation is doing is driving down wages for field laborers, American or otherwise. That hardly sounds like destroying a country. If you’re looking for something that could destroy the country, look at atmospheric cancer (global warming) or diminishing oil supplies.

    You call the U.S. “your country” and that seems very telling. It’s just selfish. Try to have a heart and realize that there is a better way to solve this issue, and it doesn’t involve destroying the lives/dreams/hopes of illegally immigrated Mexicans.

  • “We didnt cross the border. The border crossed us.”

    This was One of many chants in the beautiful cacophony of sound this past monday in the streets of Seattle. We had at least 50,000 marching.

    This chant has many meanings, but what it brings to my mind is the US-Mexican war of 1848. After which, the Mexican govt’ was forced to sign the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. As a result of the treaty, the United States acquired more than 500,000 square miles of valuable territory and emerged as a world power in the late nineteenth century.

    Mexican immigrants arent traveling to a new country when they cross the US/Mexican “border.” They are going back home.

  • Rade

    Having been intimately involved with the Serbian immigrant community my whole life, I have a hard time with the leniency being shown illegal immigrants (especially the semantic trick of calling them “undocumented workers” to avoid the term “illegal”). My father tied to escape then-Yugoslavia in the early-60s, was caught, spent time in prison there, and succeeded on his second try. He came to this country legally, with nothing but the clothes on his back, speaking no English. He worked hard, became a citizen, and lived a decent middle-class life until the day he died. Our family helped other immigrant from his homeland when they first arrived, passing on the help he recieved. Most of the families and individuals who came to this country in the last decade were displaced by the civil wars in the former Yugoslavia, and were not upper class or educated. Despite all the obstacles the vast majority of them have settled down and become productive members of society. Giving illigal aliens, people who KNEW they were breaking the law when they came here, a pass is insulting to those who came here by following the rules.
    Ultimately the problem and the source of illegal immigration is the industrial argibusiness that feeds on low wage workers and is responsible for the demise of family farming in most of the country. Illegal immigration is a symptom of an industrialism that transforms farming into a version of mining the land, caring only for lowest cost and highest profit (if I may paraphrase Wendell Berry). Instead of expecting big government to solve the problem (an entity which exists primarily to serve big business, even on the political Left), we need to change ourselves and quit supporting industrial agriculture simply because we must have orange juice when we don’t live within 500 miles of a climate that orange trees will grow in.
    All that said, normalizing illegal immigration is not the answer, and by winking at a violation of immigration law, how do we maintain the integrity of the legal system?

  • Rade

    “‘We didnt cross the border. The border crossed us.’ Mexican immigrants arent traveling to a new country when they cross the US/Mexican ‘border.’ They are going back home.”

    Like most mass-protest slogans the above is typically vacuous. Last time I checked, there were not Mexicans living in Seattle before 1848. The local Indian tribes might take exception to that characterization. If we are goign to treat borders as some sort of fiction (if you think they are a fiction I suggest trying to walk into Canada without stopping at the border station. Since the borders of Germany once included most of Poland, does that mean Germans should be encouraged to simply “go home”? People who suggest this sort of erasing of borders tend to do so selectively.
    The problem in the world today is not too many borders but too few. I find it hard to understand why many of the same peopel who oppose global big-business are the same people who would support a global, and ultimately equally unaccountable big-government.

  • Marco

    I believe the US should look at other countries emigration laws, that have been able to control the immigrant flow better and had put in place programs a policies avoiding the need of illegal aliens in their countries, take for example Canada, with programs for foreign workers to come and work their fields for 6 months, they are given housing, medical attention, all basic rights, they get a paycheck every 15 days, for only half of their money earned, (then again, they have food and housing so that�s ok) and the rest of the money, is held for them, (If they choose to of course) until the end of their term, so that all their efforts don�t go down the drain and have some actual money for when they go back home, there are programs like this for the farming and fishing industry and manufacturers (not sweatshops), they work really well, people come once a year, and their dignity remains intact. And it doesn�t take away any jobs from permanent residents and Citizens, as this jobs are offered based on the demand, and the one rule that applies is that citizens or residents have a first take at the job, since no one wants to do them, they have recur to Mexico, China and other countries to create the task force needed to work the fields.

    Immigrating to Canada is also fast, maximum waiting time is about 2 years for pretty much every process, and it�s very straight forward, if you are being sponsored, there�s the opportunity to apply for a working visa while your paper work is in progress, takes about a month to get it, so that you can be productive and pay taxes. You can also enter and leave the country (with a permit), if you are immigrating from within Canada or if you are waiting in your country of origin until you can come and live as a resident in Canada, people don�t have to sacrifice not seeing their loved ones. If you become a permanent resident of Canada, you might be eligible for Citizenship in 3 years. Canada wants your tax money, not to have to give you money because they can get around some redundant forms.

    Now, fees are a lot higher than the US, but they have a much more organized task force behind it, so that people don�t put their lives on hold for years and have no other option but to either seek welfare or work illegally. There are not so many forms as some forms can be used for different cases, if you walk into an immigration office in Canada, they are welcoming and helpful, their goal is to legalize the status of whomever enters the country or send them away as soon as possible if they�re not eligible to remain.

    I know all of these because I had to immigrate to Canada 2 years ago, as my partner is Canadian, we wanted to marry and we couldn�t do it in the US, same sex marriage is legal in Canada so here we are…

    Now don�t get me wrong, I don�t have a problem with the US government defending its soil, but respecting the human rights and dignity of the newcomers should never be an option and I think that is where we fail, aren�t we supposed to be the greatest democracy the world has ever seen, we are definitely the place where every one wants to be, but we fail miserably at protecting and providing all of the people their basic dignities and rights, our people or not�..

  • dolly

    My parents came from Cambodia. Yea, remember the “secret bombings” by Nixon ordered on Cambodia. Well after the U.S bombing everything went down hill. Communist took over Cambodia and my parents escaped to the Thai refugeee camps. And from there they waited to go to the U.S.

    And guess what they did when they got there. They went through naturalization and got their U.S Citizenship. Even though their brothers stepped on U.S mines and U.S bombs destroyed their homes, they still had the effort to go through with it. Why? Because for them it was the right thing to do. They didn’t want their children to live a lie. Hard work is hard work. But a lie will always be a lie.

  • luis roman

    i oppose these law because we are humans and just because you come from some other places it does not mean that your different
    im from el paso tx and man theres alot of mexican and latinos and if he all leave theres would be no one in the fields construction cleaning houses working with the koreans at the downtown for 4.50 and hour or 5.00 and hour think before you the congress make the worse mistake ever please dont hurt or raza and remember we all create equal even in the constitution mentions that
    luis roman
    el paso tx
    austin high

  • Luz Lopez

    This is a beautiful peom that I want to share with all of you because it reflects the life of Illegal Immigrants in the USA. We, the Hispanic community,contribute to the country even if people do not want to see it. But we really do. Period!

    ROSTROS/FACES

    These are the faces
    Of the men and women
    That work in the fields,
    Hotels and restaurants.
    Honorably working
    At the third-rate jobs,
    That nobody wants.

    These are the faces
    From which sweat falls;
    To them belong
    The weary arms and feet,
    Which each morning,
    Prepare the bread and food,
    The feed the nation.

    These are the faces
    Of those who,
    Though they have a name,
    Live in the shadows.
    These who have only
    Obligations;
    But no rights,
    Nor voice.

    These are the faces
    Out in the light of day,
    Of the men and women
    Who are still waiting
    To be call by name.
    And in whom, hope
    Achieves
    Its most sublime meaning.

    By Jess Ibarra. Detroit, 2006-03-27.

  • Lana

    er…

    where to start?

    I do agree…but i would like to share a story with you. My father was hit by a car and taken to the hospital. we didnt know if he will survive, he did, thank the lord. but anyway the person that hit my Father was an illegal immigrant, he did not have insurance. He did get about 5 tickets, but he did not pay for anything, which meant we (me and my family) paied all the hospital bills, which, keep in mind, were alot, since he stayed in the hospital for 2 months…2 weeks in the ICU. but anyway the point im trying to make is that, that illigel immgrant went back home without paying a dime, while we payed emtional and physical pain. Also, how would you deal reappist and criminals who ran back home without facing the consequnces?

  • Kreid

    I am not a globalofobic , but, do you know how many people is in the states right now because their loose their bussines thanks to , Wal-mart
    HEB, Home Depot, Sam’s ,Tyson(meat packers) etc, etc… In their countries. I mean don’t get me wrong, but who is taking the job or bussines from who. Theres good and bad people everywhere no matter from what country,and you can’t blame or judge all immigrants by the acts of a few of them, you know better than that.
    United States was and will always be an Immigrant country that’s the way it is.

    H.R. 4437 it will fail for only one reason, when it is a choice between the love of one’s family and their well-being, and what is obedient in the face of an unethical, unenforced, or inhumane law, the choice is quite simple. It is a love and respect for humanity that should always rule above any government’s laws.

  • Lana, im sorry about your dad and im glad he is well. I think what happen to him shouldnt have happen to him, but what about the immagrant that works his ass off for two weeks and his boss doesnt pay him and tells him to get lost because he knows that person has no one to complain to. hey lana what if that man that hit your dad was not an immagrant but a black man that can not afford insurance, would you want him out of this country too? OR what if he was white with no insurance?? naw that cant happen all white people have insurance… again i do believe we have a problem with immagration in this country and there is a way to fix it but HR 4437 is not it and comments like lana’s dont help.

  • jordan

    I totally concur with your views on the oppostion of HR 4437. Good commentary.

  • Fabiola

    People say that immigrants don’t pay taxes, but as a matter of fact they do!!! Yes there may be criminal immigrants, but if we don’t legalize them how would we be able to track them? Immigrants pay taxes the day they buy groceries, when they work, they may be payed with cash, but do you really know how many times they steal hours from their checks and are not able to protest against it. They pay taxes, contribute extremely to the economic. They have built most of the land. Immigrants are the new pioneers of America. The US for many years has tooken advantage of many countries. It makes other countries sell their goods at a cheap price that leaves countries almost unable to feed their own population. This creates great poverty in many countries. The US is a great contributer to the poverty that many countries has. So why do immigrants come to the US? They come to the US because their countries live in poverty due to the exploitment that the US creates in their country. According to “Social Problems” by James Henslin, “””the most industrialized nations (US) import raw mateirals from poor nations and give them industrial products in return. Rich nations exploit the poor nations. Industrialized nations dominate the market for food and raw materials. The poor nations must sell their food and natural resources (from bananas to coffee tin) at prices so low that they are lucky to keep up with their expanding populations, as a result these nations remain poor.””” So now that I have presented this quote, we must realize that the US brings so much poverty to other countries that that’s the reason why so many immigrants want to come to the US. The US carries the most goods than any other nation, why must this be? because it steals from the poor nations like Mexico, Salvador, China, Japan.
    Not only does the US get rich from exploiting other countries by getting their goods at a low price, but the US has the most sweatshops around the world. How does the US make it’s Nike shoes, Walmart products, and reebok? Has it ever come to mind that these companies makes thousands and even millions of dollars because they go to other countries for cheap labor. The US doesn’t want immigrants here because they take over space and jobs, but yet it’s okay for big US corporations to go to other countries and take advantage of poor countries and exploit people there for cheap pay.
    So if anyone is or was against immigration, please really take a look at what the US does underground it’s work then judge the reasons why so many immigrants are here in the US. The US has caused them to be here.
    Anyone who is not Native American is an immigrant.

    SacState University Student

  • Bill Hunt

    I have to agree with another person that posted, I have no problem with immigrants as long as they are legal. But don’t cry me a river over Illegal s that “sneak” into this country and expect all rights and benefits. I don’t care if they have no homes in their country and their children are born here. These are the immigrants that prevent my child from getting a college grant/ loan, and a great job later in life. These are the “citizens” that expect signs, and instructions, and menus, and everything else to be printed in their countries language. They want to be here but don’t want to learn the language, or live by the rules. I say good-bye and good riddins to bad rubbish! Call me ignorant call me mean, call me whatever you choice, I frankly don’t care. I have buried family members that have fought for the rights of US citizens, both born here and that obtained their citizenship LEGALLY! I fully BACK and SUPPORT HR 4437

  • Gabe Rodriguez

    I highly disagree with this geddo bill. It makes no sence at all to make an immigrant illegal it just show how stupid yall are.

  • Alonso

    Well, if you think about it carefully, they work with fake social security cards, therefore they pay taxes. That is a fact cause I know a lot of illegal immigrants. They actually pay more taxes than you and I cause they can’t even claim them at the end of the year like you and I can. Those people that are working illegally are not only paying taxes but also doing the jobs that a lot of of people don’t wanna do man. Think of it this way, if there are no immigrants to pick up Tomatoes or oranges which are tough jobs ” I picked oranges once and only lasted 3 days” the ones called legal whose ancestors came to this country the same way they did will have to do that job, and that job is so fucking hard that they will not wanna do it for 8 bucks an hour, they’ll wanna do it for probably 14 bucks an hour at least and tomatoes are gonna be so expensive. You think Gas prices have gone up? wait till you see that happens with those tomatoes man. Not only do they work hard descently but contibute to this country probably more than most American citizens man.

  • i think that the person above me is correct, its true, americans dont want to pick tomatoes and stuff like that, if we get all the white ppl to do that they are going to want benefits, and will want to get payed a lot more than what the mexican satisfies with, its true, all the unclaimed money from the income taxes that the meixcans make are going to the social security and keep yall’s grandparents recieving their social security money… if it wasnt for the money that the government gives to the social security, then i know yalls grandparents wouldnt be cruisin in then brand new cars and living in them big houses near the lakes!…lol

  • baffomet

    To the person who commented that the U.S exploits a lot of poor nations, that is somewhat true, however, the main reason why a lot of these countries are poor is not because the U.S makes them poor. It’s because their governments are corrupt. One of the elements of corruption is only following the rules that suit you. The U.S by no means is an angel either, but not following the law is a path towards even more corruption. BTW Japan is not a poor country. You might want to check your source there. Also there is a huge difference between Illegal and Legal immigrant. Comparing the two is just silly.

    These poor “Illegal” immigrants do face some extreme hardships in trying to cross(by land/sea)over here. They work these crappy jobs for low wages. The problem, however, is that they are doing it to themselves by being here illegally. It’s a double edge sword because by not going through the proper channels, they are reducing themselves to this treatment because other people know they can exploit them since they have no “civil” rights. It would be nice if the world cared about everyone, respected everyone as a human being, but that’s not the case nor it never will be. If they were here legally then they could make a stand for their civil rights just as many other people did.

    The other fact that they are just trying to make a living is a very noble cause. They want what everyone wants, to live a decent life and provide a better life for their children. Once again though, the problem is that they are doing it “illegally” by stealing, forging,(Identify Theft, Fake SS#, etc…) and other unlawful acts to do so. Is it okay to do “Illegal” acts so long as its for a noble cause? Do the ends justify the means??

    Just as a side note. For the past 5 years I have volunteered in TaxAid and VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance)at the local communities where I live (26th & Mission). We provided free income tax preparation for the low wage income earners and seniors. I have seen and prepared MANY tax returns for illegal people (Since many of them heard that they are going to get money back from the government) and have noticed a few things: 1) They usually claim the maximum amount of exemptions to not get taxed on their income 2) They obviously don’t make a lot of money. So what is my point? Those people who say they pay taxes is INcorrect. For the ones who don’t get paid cash/under the table, they rarely ever pay taxes on their income. If they don’t earn a lot of money or send money back to their home country, how is a sales tax an effective way for them to pay taxes?? The sales tax that they pay definitely doesn’t pay the costs of them being here.

    I don’t think that deporting all those millions of people is a solution either. Having the guest worker program would be my only solution if it can enforced. The problem is who is to say that it would actually work. After their time is up, does anyone really think that they will just pack up their things and go back to their country??? There are many people who come over with other visas who overstay. With a Guest worker program, it would be easier to get in and stick around.

    I truly sympathize with a lot of the illegal people here in terms of the hardship and services they provide. I have worked with and have made many of friends that were illegal immigrants in my lifetime, however, I don’t agree that they should be allowed a free pass to become a citizen. The bill is very harsh and I hate to see anyone get exploited like that, but there are many more people who went through their own hardships to go through the process the legal way. It would be insulting to all of those people who did it the right way (Which includes my family). Granting citizenships for people who intentionally broke the law isn’t right and would only increase that type of behavior since there are no consequences for their actions. Don’t you think that people should be accountable for their actions? While I agree that the U.S visa system isn’t what most people would call fair(insert sarcasm), that doesn’t give a person the right to break the law because it doesn’t suit them.

    Some Other Notes:

    Taken from the San Francisco Chronicle: As of today, 61% of the US wants illegal immigration to be considered a crime.

    For those who haven’t read the bill, Google: Wiki HR4437 for complete details.

    End of rant 1.0

  • maria

    illegal immigration is not a crime. They shouldn’t be treating us like illegal criminals. We come into this country to succeed here. We work harder than everybody. We do the work that no citizen will ever do. The sad part is that we are not protected by law:no social security number, no visa, no protection.

  • ES

    I think it’s a load of bullshit that the government wants to pass a law that will get rid of people looking for a better life and would require the people helping them or coming in contact with them to snitch on them. I think there should be SOME kind of control as to who comes into the country and when, but not to a level where the US is some kind of frickin fortress. Shit, the people INSIDE will feel like hopping the fence to get out of the US. Me and my parents came here from Mexico almost 17 years ago. I was 8 months old at the time. I didn’t even know how to walk. My mom carried me in her arms the whole time. Thank God there were no red-neck minutemen back then, my ass would’ve been blasted back to Puebla. Anyways, we applied for our legal documents as soon as we got in. We’ve spent thousands on lawyers and other shit, but we’re still not legal. I’m 17, and can’t even get a my frickin license cause Dubya says that I’m a “threat to the American way of life”. So I guess you could say that I’m not from anywhere. I’m not from Mexico cause I don’t know what it’s like, and I’m not from here cause I wasn’t born here and don’t have my documents. What’s my point? This whole hr 4437 is bullshit, and there should be an ammnesty for those living here for a lonf time. I like it here and wouldn’t like to be anywhere else. Plus, i love them white girls. 🙂

  • Lana

    Kried, i am not saying i agree with this act, nor am i saying i do not. you have ignored my question about what to do with rappiest and criminals who do not face the chargers but run back to where they came from? is that fair? yes, i do agree with you that H.R 4437 may not be the answer, but what else is there to act upon? America has been trying to force immigrants out for ages, it didnt work then, i doubt its going to work now.