Illegals pessimistic about hurdles of immigration law

first_imgTUCSON, Ariz. – Under the shade of a mesquite tree here one morning this week, waiting for work that did not come, Elias Ramirez weighed the hurdles of what could be the biggest overhaul in immigration law in two decades. To become full legal residents, under a compromise Senate leaders announced Thursday, Ramirez and other illegal immigrants would have to pay a total of $5,000 in fines, more than 14 times the typical weekly earnings on the streets here, return to their home countries at least once, and wait as long as eight years. During the wait, they would have limited possibilities to bring other family members. “Well, it sounds difficult, but not impossible,” said Ramirez, 24, a native of Chiapas, Mexico, who has been here a year. “I would like to be here legally in the future, so these things are what I might have to do.” Another man among the group of job-seekers gathered outside a church here that serves as a hiring site for day laborers overheard Ramirez and approached with disdain. In his weekly radio address on Saturday, President Bush said that the measure “will improve security at our borders. It will give employers new tools to verify the employment status of workers and hold businesses to account for those they hire.” Bush added: “This legislation will clear the backlog of family members who’ve applied to come to our country lawfully, and have been waiting patiently in line. “And this legislation will transform our immigration system so that future immigration decisions are focused on admitting immigrants who have the skills, education, and English proficiency that will help America compete in a global economy.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “It’s almost impossible to bring your family,” he said, rattling off information he had gleaned from a Spanish-language newspaper. “You have to go back first, and what are you going to do in Mexico while you are there and there is no work?” The compromise bill has offered a glimmer of hope to illegal immigrants here, 60 miles from the border, and elsewhere. But they and others, through news reports, advocates, and lawyers, are just now learning the fine print. Advocacy groups here said they would lobby lawmakers to reject the bill, saying it would place onerous restrictions on illegal workers who want to win legal status and also hurt efforts to unify immigrant families. “This is an unprecedented shift from family unity being the cornerstone of our immigration policy,” said Isabel Garcia, a lawyer and a chairwoman of Derechos Humanos, an advocacy group here. Garcia also objected to what she called “insurmountable” obstacles in the bill. The compromise Senate bill proposes an initiative to give legal status to an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants. It also portends a major shift in the priorities and values of American immigration for the future. It would gradually change a system based primarily on family ties, in place since 1965, into one that favors high-skilled and highly educated workers who want to become permanent residents. last_img read more