Steve Martin (7/10, Letters, Immigration reform) proposes new US immigration laws based on Mexican immigration law and 18th- and 19th- century anti-immigration sentiment recently reified by a number of right-wing and conservative demagogues. The rhetoric these alleged pundits generate distracts the working people of the United States from the kinds of systems of capital and labor that oppress them and focuses their concerns on matters less deadly and disastrous for them than the continued exploitation of them by those who hold or seek to hold political, economic, and social power and capital wealth.
The US is not Mexico and it does not exist in a nostalgic and sanitized past when everything was good, clean, and easy. Many citizens’ ancestors arrived here when immigration was neither legal nor illegal. Thus, I propose uniquely American immigration laws both humane and respectful of our immigrant history:
•Instrumental to republican democracy, schools will offer accessible instruction to all students, including English as Second Language to all potentially bilingual students, and shall not exclude children of any language or national origin.
•All government business will be understandable to the governed, regardless of their language or country of origin.
•According to the Constitution (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 4), and the 14th Amendment, native-born or naturalized citizens shall have the right to vote.
•The consent of the governed being integral to republican democracy, electronic voting systems shall translate ballots into any language for all elections.
•The welfare of all members of society–citizen, resident alien, documented, and undocumented–is essential to the general welfare of US citizens. Since everyone in the US pays local and state sales, vehicle license, property, and federal excise taxes, all members of US society will have access to government safety-net programs in times of need.
•Anyone, including foreigners and foreign interests, shall be able to donate to any US charity or invest in any US business.
•Property owners–business, corporate, citizen, or noncitizen–are responsible for maintenance and taxes for their properties at the risk of seizure and resale.
•Any immigrant, regardless of documentation status, intending on staying in the US and respecting the rule of law shall be eligible for naturalization according to current law.
•As a condition of high school graduation or its equivalent, all citizens–including Mr. Martin–and noncitizens, must demonstrate the same knowledge of US history, government, and society as that required of naturalized citizens on the United States Naturalization Test.
Sound too lenient? Americans are strong, humane, and innovative. Immigrants all, we have the responsibility to welcome those like us who pursue personal and familial security through hard work and persistence.
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