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Fwd: Amnesty Bill proposed for undocumented workers

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  • SIUHIN@aol.com
    Amnesty proposed for illegal workers By Silvina Martínez Bee Staff Writer (Published Feb. 8, 2001) Undocumented immigrants would be eligible for permanent
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 9, 2001
      Amnesty proposed for illegal workers
      By Silvina Martínez
      Bee Staff Writer
      (Published Feb. 8, 2001)

      Undocumented immigrants would be eligible for permanent residency within
      five years regardless of their current status under an amnesty proposal
      introduced in Congress on Wednesday.
      The bill by Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., follows a limited amnesty passed
      by Congress in December for undocumented immigrants who believe they were
      unfairly denied legal residency through the 1986 Immigration Reform and
      Control Act.

      "It will provide opportunities for hard-working, tax-paying immigrants to
      normalize their status and eventually become U.S. citizens if they wish,"
      Rosalinda Guillen, vice president of the United Farm Workers, said at a
      press conference in Sacramento on Wednesday.

      Representatives from the United Farm Workers and the Service Employees
      International Union held the press conference to support the legislation
      and call for immigration reforms that would grant legal rights to millions
      of families.

      "Immigrant labor has played a major role in the economic expansion we have
      experienced over the past eight years," Guillen said. "It is only fair that
      this nation recognizes their contributions and reward their labors."

      In California, immigrant advocates estimate that Gutierrez's legislation
      could result in legal residency for more than 300,000 undocumented
      immigrants, most of them farm workers and other low-wage workers.

      The legislation would make undocumented workers who have been in the United
      States five years -- arriving before Feb. 6, 1996 -- eligible to stay
      legally. Starting in January 2003, it would move that date up one year and
      would continue to do so annually until Jan. 1, 2007.

      Guillen said most of the immigrants targeted by the amnesty are families of
      four or more making $6,500-$12,000 a year with no benefits or rights,
      barely surviving through seasonal, erratic employment.

      "Employers need the work force, and there's an unspoken understanding," she
      said.

      About 150,000 immigrants -- a fraction of the several million illegal
      residents in the country -- are expected to benefit from last year's
      amnesty legislation. To qualify, they must be among 400,000 members of a
      class that sued the INS after being denied legal residency through the 1986
      Immigration Reform and Control Act and prove they entered the United States
      before 1982.

      With the unveiling of Gutierrez's bill Wednesday, coalitions of farm
      workers and other labor organizations across the country gathered publicly
      to support the legislation.

      "A new amnesty program will benefit workers from Long Island to Puget
      Sound, and from North Dakota to south Texas," Guillen said.

      If passed, the bill would eliminate any period before family members of
      petitioners may receive work permits while they await their permanent
      residency.

      Gutierrez also is proposing the creation of a national task force to study
      ways to end exploitation at work sites.

      "Right now, undocumented workers are held hostages in many work places;
      employers know they don't have anywhere to go," Guillen said. "We want them
      to become legal and be protected by the same rights of other workers."

      Mexican President Vicente Fox said Saturday that when he meets with
      President Bush in Mexico later this month, he will push Bush to grant
      amnesty to Mexicans living and working illegally in the United States. The
      Feb. 16 meeting will be Bush's first foreign visit since taking office last
      month.

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