One week Boycott among undocument workers still possible by Mitch E.Perry04/12/06
In the wake of this week's massive immigration demonstrations, the Washington Post reports that many House Republicans are worried that a tough anti-illegal-immigration bill they thought would please their political base has earned them little benefit while becoming a lightning rod for the fast-growing national movement for immigrant rights.
Last night WMNF reported that the sponsor of the now infamous House Bill 4437, Wisconsin Republican James Sensenbrenner, thought it was a mistake to include in the legislation making illegal immigrants â€˜felonsâ€™â€¦ Then later last night, in a joint statement, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist both indicated they wanted that language dropped. Both criticized House Democrats, who, they said, opposed efforts by Republicans to strip the provision from the bill before it passedâ€¦Their statement said, "Instead, they voted to make felons out of all of those who remain in our country illegally".
House Republicans rushed through the bill just before Christmas that would build hundreds of miles of fence along the U.S.-Mexico border, require that businesses verify the legality of all employees' status through a national database, fortify border patrols, and declare illegal immigrants and those who help them to be felons Sensenbrenner's committee bill included the felony provision, but when he took it to the House floor December 16th, he offered an amendment to downgrade the offense of being an undocumented worker from a felony to a misdemeanor. The Democratic leadership pushed its members to vote against the amendment, and 191 Democrats did. Only eight Democrats voted with Sensenbrenner.
Meanwhile, employers in the agriculture, tourism and construction industries say they are concerned about discussions about the next planned day of demonstrations, May 1stâ€¦Actually, there has been talk of temporary workers taking the entire first week of May off to demonstrate their strength.
That concept has been discussed within a group of Mexican business owners in the Tampa Bay region, who call themselves the Mexican Council of Floridaâ€¦Palmetto Attorney Jim Delgado is a member of the that group (roll tape#1 o.q.â€?hurt any other businessâ€?)
But having said that, Delgado says immigration reform â€“ and having Frist and Hastert and Sensenbrenner walk away from making undocumented immigrants â€œfelonsâ€? never would have happened without the grass roots rallies of the past month (roll tape#2 o.q.â€?something just has to be doneâ€?)
On Monday, major immigrant rights rallies were held throughout the state â€“ and new census numbers indicate that shouldnâ€™t be a surprise.
Of the 9 top metropolitan areas in the U.S. with the fastest growing Latino populations, 4 are in Central Floridaâ€¦Fort Myers, which had a reported 75,000 marching on Monday, leads the way with a 55% increase of Latinos in from 2000 to 2004â€¦while Naples was 7th, Lakeland 8th, and the Sarasota/Bradenton /Venice region 9th with a 38% increase.
And that only includes documented Latinos- all according to the Washington DC think tank the Brookings Institute.
Although much has been about how the immigration debate has split the Republican Party in half, between those concerned about security and who believe that those who break the law should be punished, or at least not rewarded, versus the business sector who supports the workers as a means to provide cheap labor.
There has been some, but not much discussion, on the Democratic Party side regarding the economics of cheap labor â€“ and how some economists believe that immigrants drive down wages among lower earning Americans, a point referred to in a column that liberal NY Times Columnist Paul Krugman wrote about recently.
Attorney and member of the Mexican Council of Florida, Jimmy Delgado who wrote an op-ed in Tuesdayâ€™s Sarasota Herald Tribune about the issue , believes that all sides in the debate have legitimate points, and some not so legitimate (roll tape#3 o.q.â€? Middle Class Americansâ€?)