Fwd: Amnesty Bill proposed for undocumented workers
- 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
"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
"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
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
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
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
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