I’ve been thinking a bit about the Immigrant Protest scheduled for today and all of the contradictions and conflicts embodied in it. I’m pretty sure that most Latinos in the U.S. and most immigrants in general, are a little uncomfortable to be tied to illegal immigration. I don’t think that anyone, even the illegal immigrants themselves would argue that illegal immigration should be condoned or encouraged. Nevertheless, I’m not sure that the true heart of the matter has been articulately expressed.
I think the real question that needs to be answered is, what rights and protections should people in the U.S. illegally have? In many countries, illegal immigrants have little if any rights spelled out in the law and are wide open to merciless exploitation and abuse. I would think that Americans would like to be better than that and I don’t think that any of the measures on the table right now address this fundamental question. A guest worker program will still leave many, if not most, in an illegal status. Granting legal residence after paying fines, etc…, still leaves a lot of illegals too. Either way, the question of what rights undocumented residents actually have is left unanswered.
There will always be people in the country illegally, and they have rights that should be protected by virtue of their humanity. The real debate needs to get focused on spelling out what these rights are before moving forward on any of the immigration proposals currently in play.