Biden must ensure immigration reform does not attract more illegal immigration

FELICIA J. PERSAUD | 2/4/2021, midnight
President Joe Biden on Friday, Jan. 29, 2021 wisely choose to delay an executive order on asylum and reuniting families ...
Felicia Persaud

President Joe Biden on Friday, Jan. 29, 2021 wisely choose to delay an executive order on asylum and reuniting families separated at the border. Some may not agree, but the president’s postponement came as some 8,000 people from Honduras set out to reach the U.S. as part of a so-called migrant caravan. Luckily, many were largely dispersed in Guatemala as they clashed with the military there.

There is no denying the situation in Honduras after the hurricanes of November is dire. Poverty is rampant in many countries in Central, South and Latin America, made worse by the pandemic and crime.

Many view getting to the U.S. much like winning the jackpot. Most are confident that with Donald Trump gone, President Biden will be the answer to their prayers.

Once they can get to the U.S. border, they feel, they will be let in. This as Biden is already reversing and rolling back several Trump-era policies, including freezing construction of the border wall and revoking the policy to separate migrant families crossing the border.

But the reality in 2021 in the United States of America, in the midst of a pandemic, is bleak, and President Biden was elected to be president of the United States of America. The unemployment number in this country currently is estimated at about 10.7 million. Jobless claims totaled 847,000 for the week ending Jan. 28 as those receiving unemployment benefits totaled 18.28 million. Millions, including children, are facing food insecurity in the good ole’ USA and thousands are losing their homes or facing evictions.

The service sector, which employs many immigrants in the U.S., including hotels, bars, restaurants and casinos, has been hit very hard. In January alone, the industry lost 498,000 workers.

As President Biden pushes another much needed economic relief package, to help pandemic hit Americans, while simultaneously trying to push an immigration reform agenda post Donald Trump, his focus cannot be on letting more new immigrants into the country at this time in history.

His focus must instead be on ensuring a path to legalization for the 11 plus million undocumented immigrants already living in the country, especially the so-called DREAMERS. Many already are working and have been paying taxes. They are already part of the fabric of the United States.

More than 60% have resided in the country for more than a decade, and they have more than 4 million U.S.-born children. They also account for 5% of the workforce, representing the backbone of the agriculture, construction and hospitality sectors.

However, any path to legalization should also include one that includes payment of fines for overstaying or entering the country illegally. This will help bring millions out of the shadows, overcoming that security risk while also ensuring these new legal residents pay their taxes and paying into the Social Security administration.

This is not the time for new asylees, refugees or the importation of new foreign workers. There are a number of loopholes in the current immigration law that can also be changed to ensure we limit new immigration while giving legalization to those that have earned it through years of paying their dues as upstanding Americans.

The 7 congresswomen who are charged with pushing Biden’s bill through the Congress would do well to remember this, if the bill is to win bipartisan support and make it through the Senate and be signed into law. This is a harsh but necessary reality we must face and support. We simply cannot continue with an open border policy at this juncture in our history.

The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow