Perry Announces He is Open to the Idea of Work Visas for Undocumented Immigrants

CNN asked GOP Candidate Rick Perry what he would do with the over 11 million workers in the United States without valid documentation. He replied that he stands against deportation, but he would be willing to offer work permits after the border was secured.

UnivisionNews quotes him as saying, “You have to identify them, you have to be able to give them some type of identification. Here’s how they pay their taxes and they become a contributing part of the society, instead of, as some people see them, leeches on society… that you can put a program into place of what these individuals can be identified and work visas and where they can move back and forth between countries, but not become United States citizens.”

Perry called other Republican plans for citizenship pathways “a mistake”.

This is troublesome for Latino voters, who would be in favor of both work permits and also pathways to citizenship. Many are uncertain of how Perry intends to capture the Latino vote after his announcement.

He calls his decision “wise economically”, and although he claims to be opposed to the complete building of a physical fence along the border, he likewise claims that he could secure the border within 12 months of taking office by using “strategic fencing”, by “putting boots on the ground” and “those aviation assets and real-time information.”

He claims that the reason we have to deal with “this” is because of the Federal government’s failure to secure the border.

His own words are going to be the determining factor in his losing the Latino vote, or even the the vote of the intelligent, educated person.

Perry is against deportation? Alright, I certainly can understand that. It simply wouldn’t be wise for us to deport 11+ million people. Economically, the cost would be too great, and even figuratively speaking, the cost would be too great. We would spent an uncountable amount of money on the deportations themselves, and then we would have no one left that would actually be willing to work in the fields. Alabama’s new immigration law proved to us that there are indeed jobs that Americans are not willing to do.

“You have to identify them,” he said. Identify them. Perry, might I remind you that you are speaking of human beings? You are not speaking of animals. You are not speaking of insects. You are not speaking of something that needs to be “identified.” We should not have to give them identification – that is possibly one of the most xenophobic statements I have ever heard. Who are we to jam human beings into classifications, into categories that we think they should belong in?

“Here’s how they pay their taxes and they become a contributing part of the society…” Does he honestly not realize that everyone, regardless of their citizenship status, pays taxes? Taxes on food, gasoline, condoms, milk, tires for a car, tissues, even tickets into museums… everyday products we seldom consider are subject to taxation. The difference between the undocumented person paying taxes and the American citizen paying taxes is that the undocumented do not file for tax returns. The pay, but they never receive. It’s the American that demands it back.

And, Perry, if you’re really concerned about people becoming contributing members of society, the next time you pass someone selling lettuce, or the next time you’re at the grocery store, or the next time you send someone to do your grocery shopping, I want you to think about how those heads of lettuce made it to the grocery store shelves. A human being had to pick that lettuce, and I’m betting that an undocumented worker took a job picking lettuce in unbearable heat because an American wouldn’t take that job. Undocumented immigrants contribute to society in ways that you cannot even fathom, because unless you have done that type of work yourself, you can never truly appreciate those who do.

So Perry is willing to offer work permits, but not pathways to citizenship. In other words, he wants undocumented immigrants to become “contributing members of society”, but never be able to reap the benefits of that society. In other words, he wants them to work for us. Bracero Program, anyone?

The Bracero Program saw workers as means to an end. They were contracted annually by a farm or farming corporation and were treated in much the same manner as undocumented workers in the United States today, although they were given temporary permits. The catch, though, is that under this Program, workers were not allowed to unionize, were not allowed to speak their native language (whether that was Spanish or Nahuatl), were not allowed to send their children to school, and were given the boot back to Mexico when their time was up.

History saw undocumented workers as means to an end. Perry is no different.

The reason that we have to deal with “this” is not because of the U.S.’s failure to control the border. The reason that many workers come into the United States without valid documents is because both the United States and Mexico have implemented political policies which devastated small farmers and left an uncountable number of families unable to put food on the table. We created the problem, and now we are dealing with the repercussions of our actions.

The solution is not to barricade the border. The solution is to eliminate poverty. The solution is to see people as people.

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