Editorial: State report undermines immigration reform effort

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

If your goal is to better integrate immigrants into the state’s social, economic and civic spheres why taint the effort with incendiary ideas like college aid, tuition breaks and driver’s licenses for people who are in the country illegally?

Yet nearly three years after Massachusetts House lawmakers soundly rejected a similar plan those proposals are in a recently unveiled state report on immigration reforms.

Gov. Deval Patrick is encouraging residents to remember that those recommendations are only three out of 131 in a special report he commissioned. But if they end up overshadowing worthwhile proposals in the report the governor must take some of the blame.

His marching orders should have made it clear that neither he nor taxpayers have any appetite for coddling illegal immigrants beyond providing the most basic humanitarian assistance.

The report, called the New Americans Agenda, was done by the Governor’s Advisory Council for Refugees and Immigrants, the state Office for Refugees and Immigrants and the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. It promotes reform of immigration laws and decries the xenophobia that often poisons discussions about such issues.

It calls for addressing the backlog in demand for English classes, proposes public funding and tax credits so those here legally can become citizens, suggests providing business loans to immigrant entrepreneurs and using stimulus money for job training.  

Such initiatives make fiscal sense.  

If Social Security factors into your ability to enjoy retirement then you have a stake in whether new immigrants get the English language skills they need to succeed here.

The worker pool in this country is shrinking. Researcher Peter G. Peterson reports there were 4.2 workers to every retiree in 1995 and projects that will decline to 2.3 per retiree by 2050. The only thing working against the trend is the influx of immigrants. And the more they make, the more they contribute to Social Security and the economy.

You don’t have to have a charitable bone in your body to support programs to help them. It’s your future that’s on the line.

But by including recommendations that benefit illegal immigrants, this new report distracts attention from worthwhile initiatives and undermine the its credibility.

There are financial, social and moral incentives for coming up with better ways of helping immigrants who cross our borders legally.

But when immigration advocates and political leaders tout measures that undermine immigration laws and benefit those here illegally they’ve crossed the line.

The Patriot Ledger