Spanish government attempts to end the ‘shadow society’

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Spanish government ‘partial amnesty’ will benefit about 800,000 undocumented immigrants. Majority of them is from North Africa and Latin America. Economic, social, and security reasons prompted the Spanish government to take this step. Government was losing billions of dollars in revenue because undocumented workers were not paying the taxes and employers were not paying social security taxes. Cash transactions were taking place between the undocumented workers and their employers. Integration of foreigners in the society was another reason for ‘partial amnesty.’ Without legal status foreigners remain aloof and cannot integrate in a society. March bombing was another reason. After March bombing, homeland security became the top priority. Security considerations demanded border control and managing the arrival of the foreigner.

Requirements of partial amnesty are very simple. A 6-month work contract, registration at the town hall and security office, and clean criminal card are required to qualify for the amnesty. “Under the new rules, an immigrant who can show he has a 6-month work contract and is registered at the town hall and social security office would be eligible for residency.” (Yahoo, Spain to Offer Illegal Workers Chance of Papers, accessed 1/3/2005)

Immigration Secretary Consuelo Rumi added another condition to qualify for the green card (legal residency). “We ask them to provide a clean criminal record, so that we know that those who are here … have come to work,” Rumi said. (Yahoo, Yahoo, Spain to Offer illegal workers Chance of Papers, accessed 1.3.2005)

The expected date for the implementation of the new rules is February. The window of opportunity will remain open for 3 months. ” The new rules are expected to come in from February for a three month period and are applicable to those already living in Spain, though not legally resident.” (Yahoo, Spain to Offer illegal workers Chance of papers, accessed 1.3.2005)

The news of ‘partial amnesty’ first surfaced in August when The Guardian along with other newspapers flashed the development. “The Spanish government yesterday held out the promise of amnesty to illegal immigrants, saying it would offer full legal recognition to many already in the country and stop turning back boats before they reached its shores. The move was welcomed by some as an attempt to end the exploitation of immigrant workers and reduce the number of people who drown trying to enter Spain. But it was attacked by the opposition, who said it was foolhardy to step out of line with the rest of Europe”
Now again the news of partial amnesty for un-documented immigrants resurfaced last week.

Immigration is a hot –”button issue in America and in the European Union. Even the legal immigration has supporters and opponents. Illegal immigration is more controversial. E.U. is not immune from this controversy. “Public anxiety over the arrival of an estimated half a million illegal migrants in the 370-million-strong EU every year, in addition to about 680,000 legal immigrants, has seen gains by anti-immigration far-right parties in recent European elections. Immigration tops EU Summit Agenda,” reported CNN in June 20, 2002

That anxiety still persists in European Union. In this background, Spanish government decision is a bold and right decision. Illegal immigration is an issue and it should be dealt with. Deportation is not the solution. Spain deported more than 100,000 undocumented immigrants last year. It did not solve the problem. Cyclic amnesty is the only solution. Spain is member of European Union. Spanish legal status means access to all countries of European Union, including Great Britain, France and Germany.

As ‘amnesty’ for more than 10 million undocumented immigrants in America is concerned, it is again in the news. And it is not a surprise to any one that it is again a political football. Pro and anti-immigrant groups have their own reasons to support it and to oppose it. “Shortly after September 11 attacks, President Bush put aside his illegal alien guest-worker proposal to focus his energies on counter-terrorism and homeland security. He brought the proposal back in January, but Congress killed it. Last Tuesday, the president indicated he would jump-start it yet again. In Mexico on Wednesday, Secretary of State Colin Powell also vowed to press ahead. This was a bad idea then, and it’s bad idea now. The president should drop the effort.” (Editorial, Bush and illegals, The Washington Times, Nov. 15, 2004, accessed 11.20.2004)

“The United States’ immigration policy ‘partially depends on what Osama Bin Laden does,’ an expert said Friday. ‘ Our immigration plan may be in a cave in Afghanistan and not in Washington,’ said Steven Camarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies. When he is at his most cynical, Camarota said he believes a second terrorist attack could shape the country’s immigration plan, but there are many more issues at play. The issue of illegal aliens and legal immigrants was the topic of discussion at a luncheon at the Doubletree Hotel hosted by the League of Women Voters and the Charlottesville Committee on Foreign Relations. The United States has approximately 10 million illegal aliens, few of whom face deportation or other penalties, Camarota said. ‘It creates contempt for the rule of law,’ he added, and makes legal immigration less appealing. You basically tell the legal immigrant, he’s a sap. He’s sucker.” (Kate Andrews, Daily Progress staff writer, Immigration at issue, The Daily Progress, November 20, 2004, accessed 11.20. 2004)

Minnesota Daily views the ‘amnesty’ for undocumented immigrants differently. Any act that gives legal status to the undocumented immigrant is acceptable to the Daily. “Last week, President George W. Bush finally signaled his intention to push for the immigration reform plan he unveiled nearly a one year ago. That’s good news for a proposal that offers a creative solution to a long-standing problem. The plan, designed to grant temporary legal status to millions of undocumented aliens working in the United States, met a chilly reception when it was announced in January. Bush did little to promote it during the presidential election. (Opinion, Bush reforms immigration, Bush’s approach is a wise plan that deserves a fair hearing and swift passages, Minnesota Daily, November 19, 2004)

Mary Sanchez opined in St. Paul Pioneer Press. ” ‘Fixing’ immigration is a balancing game of security concerns; visas to reunite families; exports and imports; labor rights; and the need to attract foreign workers, researchers and students. Think of a immigration as a labyrinth.” (Mary Sanchez, We’re still awaiting immigration ‘fix,’ St. Paul Pioneer Press, 11/15/2004, accessed 11.20.2004)

These excerpts demonstrate one fact without any doubt. Like other issues, perception blurs vision. For a conservative, amnesty amounts to ‘rewards’ an illegal activity. For a ‘liberal’ it is humane act. Undocumented immigrants have paid their ‘debt’ to the society’ by suffering for decade. It is time to act.
About 10 million human beings are being exploited by the employers every day all over the United States. These exploited cannot form Unions. They cannot demand minimum pay. Many of them who work on fake social security cannot benefit from the billions of dollars they deposit under Social Security.

In short, every American benefits from the exploitation of the undocumented immigrants. Think for a moment, there is no undocumented immigrant in the country. Owners of the multi-billion dollar agriculture industry have to pay the minimum pay to the employees. In addition, they have to pay their share of Social Security. Results? Prices will skyrocket –” from eggplants to potatoes. The same is true about other industries – construction, home-aids, garment, and meat processing, name it any service or industrial sector. The result will be the same –” high prices for services and products. These exploited undocumented immigrants are keeping the price of every commodity low. This is the reason that 10 million undocumented immigrants are tolerated in this country. They are ‘illegal’ but their products are ‘legal.’

Spanish government has opted for a fair solution in its country. When American leadership will follow this positive act, no body knows. It was 1986, when 3 million human beings were rescued from the clutches of exploitation and misery. And who was the ‘savior’? He was not a Democratic Clinton or Carter, the champion of the oppressed and the exploited. He was Reagan, a Conservative. History may repeat itself? Pray it happens.

Muslim media and Muslim leadership should make the amnesty a permanent issue. It is the best way to involve itself in those issues that are not exclusively Muslim and Islamic.

Author’s Note: Please contact the Spanish Embassy before taking action. Second, Contact community attorneys for details. Always consult two attorneys before taking any action. Third, reports published in newspapers deal with generalities. Always consult attorneys for specific law.

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