I am very honored and grateful that we had the opportunity to talk personally this past Tuesday at the meeting in the State House. I was encouraged by the questions and interactions and appreciated your attitude very much.
Clearly we share a number similar concerns for the immigrant community, and I can sense that you are a man of compassion and moral convictions. I can appreciate the fact that you are looking for a way to address the abuses of unscrupulous employers against their undocumented workers. Still, a large part of the Hispanic community sees your approach as a veiled attempt to put the squeeze on these workers, and my sense is that it would have this effect even though this may not be your intent.
Regarding one possible difference of perspective between us, I think that I would favor more strongly a comprehensive approach to addressing this problem than you would for two reasons that are really the same with a different focus.
1. Many of the people that will be affected by policy changes and increased enforcement have been here for years, including both undocumented and documented persons.
2. Those who would be affected now have families with a lot more innocent children than we may realize.
I understand that this current situation is mainly due to negligence, poor coordination, and complicity by our Federal Government from 1986 to the present, but that’s the hand that we’ve been dealt. On one hand, I realize that opponents to comprehensive reform equate it with amnesty, to which they are categorically opposed. Thus the impasse. On the other hand, a piecemeal approach today will hurt too many people.
For these reasons, I would be a lot more comfortable with your bill if it were included as a provision in a more comprehensive approach that directly addresses the situation of the undocumented persons and their families living among us, taking into account things like
1. the length of time they have been in the country,
2. proof of no criminal record,
3. proof of paid taxes and fulfillment of other civic responsibilities,
4. ways to attend to the needs of the dependents that would be affected,
5. pathways to normalize their situations and bring them out of the shadows,
6. Etc. (this is not intended to be an exhaustive list)
My main disappointment on Tuesday was to learn that we still are lacking solid data regarding crucial information such as
1. The numbers of people both documented and undocumented that would be affected, and
2. The amount of revenues that our government receives from the I-9 tax filings by undocumented workers (I think the total may be surprising, as all those that I know are paying their taxes faithfully in hopes that this will help their cases with the INS).
As I consider the huge and complex challenges that you and your colleagues face regarding this issue, I am convinced that statesmanship is the only viable way forward. I sense that you could help to provide this kind of leadership with the help of God. For these reasons, you can be assured of my thoughts and prayers.