Bush, Immigration and the Hispanic Vote

No hacen ni dejan hacer

By Alberto Marrero Salas
Published on LatinoLA: January 24, 2004

Bush, Immigration and the Hispanic Vote

Instead of complaining about the limitations of the Bush plan, we should all be thankful that he had the guts to even propose it. We all want legalization but politics is the art of what is possible.

This is because in any of the polls conducted in this country the vast majority of voters want immigration stopped, the borders tightened and deportations stepped up. Bush has gone against the desires of the vast majority of those who elect Presidents.

Bush had a lot to lose and nothing to gain politically by making this proposal.

The vaunted Hispanic vote is a myth. Hispanics are not a monolithic people.

In California and Texas, they vote overwhelmingly for the Democrats. In Florida the GOP is favored by 2 to 1. In New York in the recent election for Governor Pataki, a Republican, received strong support from the Puerto Ricans who make up the majority of Hispanics there.

Proposing an immigration program or not produces very little change in the way Hispanics vote. Cuban and Nicaraguans in Florida will still vote overwhelmingly for the Republicans and Mexican Americans will do the same for the Democrats in the South- West.

The most important immigration programs occurred during the Republican administrations. The Farm workers Program (SAW), the Amnesty Program occurred during the Reagan years. The Salvadoran TPS program and the ABC settlement during Bush Sr.

Lincoln Diaz Ballard a Florida Republican was the daddy of the NACARA program for the Nicaraguan exiles.

President Bush asked for the recent periodic revival of 245I and when he sought to extend it the House approved it. It failed in the Senate where Senator Byrd of West Virginia, a Democrat, led the opposition to the extension.

So if the ?Hispanic vote? was dependent on immigration programs then the GOP should have the major share of those votes. What have the Democrats (other than whining about Bush) done for us lately? No hacen y no dejan hacer.

The proposal is for a three-year visa with an additional three-year extension. President Bush has proposed EARNED LEGALIZATION. It would be political suicide to use the word amnesty. But tell me the difference between amnesty and earned legalization??

Under the original TPS program for El Salvador in 1991 Salvadorans received protected status which allowed them to work and live legally in the USA for 18 months. After that it was extended under DED and finally extended under the ABC settlement.

In 1998 NACARA was extended to those Salvadorans and Guatemalans who had applied for TPS, ABC in 1991 or those who had applied for asylum previously to April 1 of 1990.

The only Salvadorans under the original TPS program of 1991 who do not qualify for permanent legal status are those with:
1. Extensive criminal records
2. Left the U.S. and cannot prove continuous residency
3. Have not taken the time to apply for the benefits

The program was extremely generous as even those who had been on welfare and not worked a day in this country were given legalization due to their status as refugees.

Even those with final orders of deportation were given over a year to re-open their cases with the Immigration Judge (EOIR) and receive permanent legalization through the Immigration Court.

The Central Americans under the NACARA program had to EARN their permanent status by proving that they had lived here paid their taxes and had obeyed the laws.

Even during the amnesty of the 1980?s a person had to earn his legalization by presenting continuous residency and a clean criminal record. So the term earned legalization is correct and even in the amnesty program legalization had to be earned.

Let us be thankful for the possible and not suffer due to wanting the impossible. The American voting public is OVERWHELMINGLY AGAINST ANY type of immigration program. At this point with the national mood being what it is even this program is a generous.

Godsend and a gutsy decision by this President.

About Alberto Marrero Salas:
Alberto Marrero Salas born in Cuba, American by choice. Elder LDS Church. Eight children, married to Olivia from El Salvador.

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