Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Well, after procrastinating for very long, United States President, George W. Bush has laid out his immigration policy. The pundits were already on his case before the cameras were turned off, poor guy.

Anyway, my concern is not whether the proposed border controls are good or not or whether his poll rating will go up or down into the teens. My concern is with the 12 million so-called illegal immigrants in the US, a significant number of who are my homeboys, Zimbabweans.

After all is said and done, Bush’s bill, if it passes in the Senate within the next few weeks, invites illegal immigrants to come forward and register themselves under an amnesty that allows them to stay and work in the US.

This is what most people in this situation have been waiting for. But I advise caution and thorough reading of the fine print and getting definite answers to ambiguous clauses and terms.

On the face of it, Bush is saying, you come and register yourselves, get an electronically traceable identity card that makes authorities track you wherever you go, whatever you do and with whom. How far will that go in so far as infringement of people’s rights and freedoms are concerned?

Bush wants immigrants to apply for temporary work permits. What is the cut off point in terms of the number of years one has been in the US? If one is out of the range, then what?

Immigrants will have to pay penalties for being in the US illegally. How much are these penalties? What of those who have been paying taxes (a majority of illegal immigrants actually pay taxes) but have not benefited from social services due to their status? Is that going to be taken into consideration?

Criminal background checks: those traffic tickets, the DUIs, domestic violence, shoplifting, how many will be excluded? Not that I advocate any criminal behavior.

Immigrants also have to consider, how many years will the temporary work permit allow, bearing in mind that when the permit expires, you will be required to go back home and reapply. The question really is, do you still have a home to go back to and even if you have, will you be allowed back to the US a second time around?

Worse, there are people who had gotten themselves into marriages of convenience and other extra-legal arrangements to stay in the US, how will their cases be handled? There are many more questions to ponder over and get answers before one takes their position in line to apply under this amnesty. Once again, the advice is caution.

Fortunately for those who fall under the Safe Third Country protocol between Canada and the US, among them Zimbabweans, Rwandans, Mexicans, Colombians, the border up north is still open. It might not be for long though.

TO READ MORE OF MY WRITING, PLEASE VISIT; www.torontosun.ca/News/Columnists/Madawo_Innocent/

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