I read Rep. Steve Pearce’s October 3rd letter “Offer middle ground to fix immigration” with considerable interest. There have been several demonstrations in Hobbs, Mr. Pearce’s hometown, for immigration reform — one as recently as Sunday. Since the Senate passed an Immigration Reform Act that I support in May, there have been many rallies sponsored by a diverse coalition of citizens throughout Southern New Mexico.
As a resident of Alamogordo, I am intensely interested in immigration reform, and I have attended several of these rallies. I was optimistic, and read Mr. Pearce’s letter several times, hoping for some “middle ground.” I could find nothing new, and much that is demeaning and contradictory.
Mr. Pearce begins by complimenting immigrants for their strong work ethic and family values, and says if his family was hungry, he would probably act as they have. Then he states no reform can begin until the border is “secure.” So when will the border be “secure” in Mr. Pearce’s eyes? When not even one parent illegally crosses the border to work to give their family the hope of a better life? He states that he is not in favor of 20,000 new Border Patrol agents, and he has never been in favor of a fence because it is too easily breached. It is clear the border will never be secure in Mr. Pearce’s eyes, because he does not want immigration reform that could lead to citizenship.
Which brings me to part “B” of Mr. Pearce’s plan, which is his real agenda. It is the same old offer we have heard in Southern New Mexico for years, “nonresident guest worker status” which could go into effect “immediately.” Pearce contradicts himself by stating “this provides immigrants with fully legal status, but can never lead to citizenship or provide these workers with federal benefits.” Really? Since when in America do we say we give full legal status, and then say the person can never be a citizen or receive the rights of a citizen? And of all the people Mr. Pearce has talked to on this, how many are interested in an offer of “nonresident guest worker”?
Basically this offer lets 11 million immigrants work and pay taxes, but gives them no legal rights. And how is Mr. Pearce’s plan any different than the current immigration system? It’s obvious that his plan only benefits a select group of businesses that want to exploit a cheap labor force. Pearce blandly states “employers, too, will benefit from a fresh, modernized guest worker program that makes it easier to find employees.”
America has a long tradition of welcoming with open arms those who come here to support and cherish American values. We have never had “nonresident guest workers” who are demeaned as second-class citizens. The time for immigration reform is now. I think of the Roswell father with two little kids I saw at a Roswell rally holding a sign that said “Pearce — 11 million people are in your hands.”
Leslie Endean-Singh is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Congress in CD2