<b>CONTINUING STRUGGLE:</b>  Many have fought for comprehensive immigration reform for years. Now, it appears major change is close to reality. Seen here, a May Day rally took over the streets of Santa Barbara in 2007.

Paul Wellman (file)

CONTINUING STRUGGLE: Many have fought for comprehensive immigration reform for years. Now, it appears major change is close to reality. Seen here, a May Day rally took over the streets of Santa Barbara in 2007.

Sea Change for Millions?

S.B. Officials React to Proposed Immigration Reforms

Thursday, January 31, 2013
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It didn’t take long for what could very well be the signature policy initiative of President Barack Obama’s second term to surface — an initiative that could impact thousands of people in Santa Barbara County.

Just a week after the president’s inauguration, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators emerged from the normal squabbling of Washington, D.C., with a framework for comprehensive immigration reform, which, if passed into law, would usher in the most significant changes to immigration law in decades. While the group of four Democrats and four Republicans face an uphill climb, their plan is in many ways similar to Obama’s.

His plan calls for smarter enforcement, a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the country, and the streamlining of legal immigration for those who do what is required of them. The group of senators have four main legislative pillars they plan to push: a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants already here — with conditions — while strengthening the border, creating an effective employment verification system, establishing a process for admitting future workers while protecting the workforce already here, and reforming the legal immigration system.

Of course, the devil is in the details, and Representative Lois Capps, along with groups in Santa Barbara, is waiting to see what, exactly, those specifics will look like. Capps, in a statement, said she was encouraged by the development but that the finer points of the plan need to be examined carefully. “The framework released today contains many of the elements of a comprehensive immigration plan I have long supported, including strengthening border security, ensuring our immigration system helps our economy grow, and creating a tough but fair path to citizenship that helps keep families together,” she said. “Additionally, the framework includes provisions that make youth a priority, similar to the DREAM Act, and one to help bolster our agricultural workforce, both of which have long been my top priorities.”

“It’s great it is being discussed,” said Anabel Merino, a CAUSE organizer for South Santa Barbara County. “We do need something truly comprehensive.”

The Central Coast Comprehensive Immigration Reform Taskforce — organized by CAUSE (Central Coast Alliance United for A Sustainable Economy), along with such groups as Casa de la Raza, Just Communities, PUEBLO, and LatiDems, among others — announced its formation last week, with the goal to push for action on immigration in 2013. The group certainly didn’t have to wait long or make too much noise before seeing some ideas on the table. “It’s great it is being discussed,” said Anabel Merino, a CAUSE organizer for South Santa Barbara County. “We do need something truly comprehensive.”

Merino said it is important that whatever legislation is introduced doesn’t create more fear for people who already have to live their lives in the shadows. She also said CAUSE would like to see a guest-worker provision and that CAUSE supports legislation that keeps families together. There is also concern, she said, that the proposed plan would lead to the border becoming “militarized.”

According to statistics in a 2011 American Community Survey provided by CAUSE, there are an estimated 103,038 immigrants in Santa Barbara County, or 24 percent of the population. Of those, more than 39,000 are undocumented. That number includes 23,755 undocumented workers and just more than 10,000 undocumented farmworkers.

Marilyn DeYoung, chair of the board for the Santa Barbara–based Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) — who sent a letter to supporters fundraising to grow the CAPS “grassroot Anti-Amnesty Team” Tuesday afternoon — said there are steps that should be taken to reform immigration law, but she is worried about both the cost to the country and the increase in population. The border needs to be totally secured, she said, only 300,000 immigrants need to be let in the country per year, and a lot of the 31 different types of visas need to either be consolidated or eliminated. Enforcement of the border, DeYoung said, has been promised by past presidents who haven’t followed through. “Politicians are ruled by … fear and greed,” DeYoung said. “They do not think about America’s future and this population.”

While the group of senators called their planned path to citizenship tough but fair, DeYoung said the “amnesty” would lead to the population mushrooming exponentially. She said the costs to process 11 million people will be extensive and that people utilizing government services will increase with more immigrants. “We already have 47 percent of the nation on entitlements,” she said. “The American people are really scared and want to see Congress cut spending. All of this comprehensive immigration reform is just going to increase the debt.”


Independent Discussion Guidelines

The pro-immigration activists need to prepare themselves when they get what they have been asking for and this "framework" translates into real law.

No complaining, please, when this really happens:

Back of the Line for the path to citizenship.
Pay a Big Fee.
No more porous borders with real quotas.
No Guest Workers because they drive down labor rates for current citizens.
E-Verify everywhere.
LEARN ENGLISH and American civics.

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
January 31, 2013 at 10:19 a.m. (Suggest removal)

And taxes too.

I could be persuaded to be for this under certain circumstances, but care needs to be taken. The last amnesty under Reagan was for 3 million illegal aliens. This time it's for 11 million. If we're not careful, we could be doing this again in 25 years for 30 million!

This has to come with increased border security and employer sanctions with real teeth! E-verify is a must and the process for citizenship should be onerous. What I really hate is making the people that actually go through the legal process of immigration and citizenship look like chumps. The process for those that came illegally MUST be more difficult and expensive than that for legal immigrants.

As long as it stops the progressive cycle of illegal immigration followed by amnesty that we are currently in, it could work.

Botany (anonymous profile)
February 1, 2013 at 8:01 a.m. (Suggest removal)

There was an interesting piece on All Things Considered (NPR) Friday about how Canada handles farm worker work permits. The workers like it, the farmers like it, and adopting something similar here could cut back on illegal immigration, because people are far more likely to go home if they know they can safely and affordably come back here for more work next season, whereas if they had to pay thousands to a "coyote" and risk their life coming over the border, they'll try to stay here to avoid repeating the ordeal.
One thing that bothers me from Latino activist groups is that I never hear them speak on why a rich country like Mexico can't feed its citizens. I am willing to bet that most Mexican immigrants to the US are not here because they love the United States. They are here because Mexico is so corrupt that they can't stay home and support their families. Don't get me wrong, I love the cultural richness Latinos add to our community, and given how lazy many of our citizens have become, we would be sunk without their labor, but if you are truly speaking out for the well-being of La Raza, should you not address why so many Mexicans have to leave their home, and work to change that?

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
February 3, 2013 at 10:22 a.m. (Suggest removal)

If you are comfortable paying $5 for a head of lettuce, $75 to get your lawn mowed, $30/hour to clean your toilets, etc. we can keep them out. But if this is unreasonable, or impossible for you we have to deal with the elephant in the room. A decent middle-of-the-road law that no one is completely happy with, is better than what is currently happening. As with every aspect of politics today we need everyone to compromise.

sarahbofsb (anonymous profile)
February 3, 2013 at 2:56 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Basically you mean livable wages ? That boogeyman doesn't really work when you look close. In the guise of helping immigrants you're actually advocating driving and keeping wages down for everyone across the board.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
February 3, 2013 at 3:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I certainly wouldn't propose keeping illegal aliens illegal simply for the purpose of exploiting them.

A guest worker program would solve that problem. It's a little ironic that we have a 7.9% unemployment rate in this country yet we can't get workers to pick our crops. The difference between now and the great depression is that now our unemployed workers can afford to be picky. Between extended unemployment and food stamps, there's no need for our own people to work too hard to make a buck.

Botany (anonymous profile)
February 3, 2013 at 4:08 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Don't you love it when liberals advocate for slave wages?

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
February 3, 2013 at 4:41 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The only people who benefit from a glut of labor are the corporations. let's also remember that the majority of illegal residents aren't even from south of the border. And wasn't NAFTA supposed to be the savior of these people? Saved the corporations money that's about it.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
February 3, 2013 at 4:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Attention Wall-Mart shoppers, consumers also benefit from cheap labor.

Botany (anonymous profile)
February 3, 2013 at 4:58 p.m. (Suggest removal)

As a consumer I don't feel I benefit from cheaply made goods made in slave factories instead of well made quality goods made by people who care. What good is a cheap appliance if you have to replace it after a year? Or clothes that rip easily? The lower you drive wages the lower quality you're gonna get overall; and after awhile nobody wll be able to afford quality if there is any to be had.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
February 3, 2013 at 6:15 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Way to call it, KV!

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
February 3, 2013 at 6:23 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Very noble, but the facts indicate the consumer believes otherwise.

Do you drive a high quality American car made by people who care or a low quality Japanese piece of junk?

Botany (anonymous profile)
February 3, 2013 at 7:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

You are kidding, right, Botany, about high quality American cars? I have a Toyota that has yet to need any major repairs at over 200,000 miles, and a farmer friend of mine recently had his Toyota truck stolen. It had 450,000 miles and was still on its original transmission.

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
February 3, 2013 at 8:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Of course I'm kidding. I was making my point. All my cars are Japanese. I'll never buy another American car again. They're crap.

Many foreign goods (including cars) are better quality than union made goods made by "people who care". I'm not saying that foreign goods are universally better, but some foreign goods (even some Chinese goods) are as good or better than those made here.

But in the end, it's the consumer that decides what is better and for what price.

And yes, in most cases the consumer DOES benefit from cheap labor.

Botany (anonymous profile)
February 3, 2013 at 8:52 p.m. (Suggest removal)

But more and more of the labor in this country is becoming cheap labor who can't afford the consumer benefits of cheap labor in an ever perpetuating cycle. Can you blame the workers who made those lousy American cars or the people who designed and engineered them, chose the materials, etc.?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
February 3, 2013 at 8:55 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Actually, as far as cars are concerned, I blame the management of these companies. They are ultimately responsible. I don't blame the workers. After all, some of the best Japanese cars are actually made in the USA.

We just live in a different and more competitive world. The day of $25-$30 per hour manufacturing jobs is over. Adapt or fail.

Botany (anonymous profile)
February 3, 2013 at 9:06 p.m. (Suggest removal)

should you not address why so many Mexicans have to leave their home, and work to change that?

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
February 3, 2013 at 10:22 a.m.

The sable canine hits the nail on the head.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
February 3, 2013 at 11:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I think we all agree from different perspectives. How do we create a solution?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
February 3, 2013 at 11:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"Net migration from Mexico to the United States has come to a statistical standstill, stalling one of the most significant demographic trends of the last four decades." Pew Research Center, April 24, 2012
Is the timing of Obama's policy change political or pragmatic?

14noscams (anonymous profile)
February 6, 2013 at 7:42 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It's the economy. Just because they're not educated doesn't mean they're stupid.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
February 6, 2013 at 8:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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