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Immigration Reform: Some signs it is getting closer

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There are several encouraging signs lately that there might be a solution soon to the illegal immigrant problem. At least, I am seeing news of groups, counties and states making proposals and passing legislation that show they are facing facts and are looking for something that will work.

I realize this doesn't mean Congress is facing facts, but if enough other groups work at it, maybe they will do something too.

Many of our citizens are finally realizing that it truly would be impossible to deport millions of people. They also admit that these workers are needed to keep our economy going.

Many surveys lately are showing that a majority of our citizens are willing to allow all the undocumented people, after going through background checks, to stay and apply for some type of work visa and pay back taxes. Everyone insists they learn English. Most want them to get on the path to citizenship if they qualify.

The Texas Association of Business has formed a group to lobby Congress. They know the wall being proposed by some will be too expensive and will not work. They are asking for a bill that will give legal status to the law abiding workers who are already here and allow more legal workers into the country as they are needed.

El Paso County Commissioners Court passed a resolution calling for legal status for undocumented, law abiding immigrants. It calls for reform that doesn't violate human rights and treats everyone with dignity and respect.

Catholic bishops are asking for humane treatment for all the undocumented people here. And most churches across the country are helping the immigrants in many different ways. Churches are treating this as a moral issue and most are trying to stay out of politics.

Several states have allowed illegal immigrant children who have gone to their high schools, graduated and qualified at state colleges to pay in-state tuition. California is going one step farther and passed a bill to allow these students to get financial aid while in college, the same as other residents.

These are all good signs that the public is ready for a solution to this problem. I doubt that one single person is happy that people are coming into our country illegally every day, but we are all responsible for it happening.

If we helped the immigrants get here; or hired them once they were here; if we voted for the people who are allowing it to go on; if we did not vote at all; if we buy food or goods or services that these workers produce: we are responsible. We should also be responsible for fixing the problem.

We will all benefit if this problem is fixed, even if it means the majority of these people are offered work visas and eventual citizenship.

If they are given legal status, they can get actual driver licenses and auto insurance. This will help every other person who is in a vehicle or who buys auto insurance for themselves.

If they aren't exploited by unscrupulous employers, they will be paid regular wages and pay all the taxes they are supposed to pay. Their jobs will also be safer and there will be fewer injuries and deaths. Many of them will be able to get better jobs, since some of these people are well educated and would qualify for higher positions than hotel maid or landscaper.

All these people would have to learn English. Most citizens who are against the immigrants are more enraged about them speaking their own languages all the time than they are about them being here. It's hard to learn a new language, especially as an adult, but it would be mandatory and they would manage somehow if they want to stay. When they have work permits and legal jobs, they won't have to work 12 hours a day (or two 8 hour jobs), and they should have more time to go to ESL classes.

Instead of being stuck in their small communities because they don't speak English, immigrants would be better able to assimilate. A hundred years ago, everyone had to learn English, there wasn't any help for people in their own languages. Now it is easy for these newcomers to stay in their ghettos and never speak English.

If all these immigrants stay and become legal residents and citizens, they will add to the fabric of this country, just like our ancestors did. Instead of being visitors and guests (unwelcome ones at that), they will be part of the community. Right now, they have no interest in being part of a community that they know they will have to leave soon.

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Donna Poisl is the author of "How to Live & Thrive in the U.S. / Como Vivir y Prosperar en Estados Unidos" and president of Live & Thrive Press. She wrote this reference guide to help immigrants learn our system and succeed in this (more...)
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