United We Stay, a pro-amnesty group comprised of first-generation Americans, immigrants, and activists has released a proposed “Bill of Rights” for illegal immigrants that makes multiple demands, including stopping arrests and deportations of all “law-abiding undocumented Americans.” With immigration remaining at the forefront of the political debate for 2016 presidential hopefuls, United We Stay is hopeful that the list will serve as a foundation for possible immigration reform. But the “Bill of Rights” is sure to receive backlash from those opposed to illegal immigration and amnesty.
“The issue of border security is simply a delaying technique, a distraction to avoid any real talk of inclusion, to discourage our initiative, to treat us like we don’t matter, that we’re not to be included in the nation’s future prosperity — no matter how hard we work,” the group said in a statement announcing their demands. “We know we have human rights, even though our very presence is deemed illegal and our existence alien. Now we have our own Bill of Rights and we want it to be the framework for every immigration decision going forward from the local to the national level.”
The proposed Bill of Rights reads as follows:
1. Acknowledgment that we are already here, that we are human beings with a right to be, that our mere presence cannot be deemed illegal or our existence alien.
2. Affirmation that we are to be treated with dignity and respect, not just because of who we are, but who you are — historic beneficiaries of immigrant struggles for the freedom to be.
3. Recognition of our right to be presented with a path to citizenship/residency as the first priority of future immigration policy combined with interim deferment of all law-abiding Undocumented Americans against detention and deportation.
4. Compelled authorization of birth certificates for our U.S.-born children to ensure their constitutionally guaranteed right to citizenship.
5. Protection against cruel and unusual punishment, including the separation of our immediate families and incarceration without charges, hearings or representation.
6. Access to non-discriminating public education and in-state tuition to ensure that our children realize their full potential for themselves and the country.
7. Guarantee of wage equality with a legal right to petition for wage theft or workplace mistreatment without jeopardizing our immigration status.
8. Assurance of humanitarian treatment, including medical care.
9. Protection against detention or deportation when we report a crime as a victim of witness.
10. Guarantee of the Declaration’s unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The proposed “Bill of Rights” is sure to be addressed by 2016 presidential contenders, as illegal immigration continues to be one of the more hotly debated topics and one that could be a deciding factor for voters.
GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, in recent weeks, has employed a tough stance on illegal immigration, making headlines with his proposal to send 11 million illegal aliens back to their countries of origin. And for many of Trump’s supporters, it is his stance on illegal immigration that gives him the edge.
For example, an August Rasmussen Reports survey shows that 70 percent of Republican voters support Trump’s plan to build a border wall, and that by a 23-to-1 margin, Republican voters support Trump’s plan to implement a mandatory return of all criminal aliens.
The American people continue to oppose amnesty as a solution to the problem of illegal immigration, as shown by a March Quinnipiac survey that found 55 percent of Americans opposed President Obama’s executive action to give more illegal immigrants amnesty and work permits.
Critics of amnesty note the financial burden that illegal immigration has placed on taxpayers. The Federation for American Immigration Reform reported in 2013 that the cost of illegal immigration on U.S. taxpayers runs about $113 billion annually at the federal, state, and local levels. The estimated cost of illegal immigration per household is $1,117. The group also reported that most illegal aliens do not pay income taxes, and among those who do, much of the tax revenues collected are refunded during tax returns.
But the American people are also becoming increasingly opposed to even legal immigration. Breitbart News reports, “Decreasing immigration is overwhelmingly popular with the American electorate — especially women, minorities, liberal and independent voters.”
Breitbart News cites a 2012 Pew Poll, which found that 69 percent of Americans wanted greater restrictions on who was allowed into the United States. A 2014 poll from Kellyanne Conway’s The Polling Company also found that a majority of likely voters would like to see limits placed on legal immigration.
A report released in September by the Center for Immigration Studies in September offers fodder for those who support this position. The report, which did not differentiate between illegal and legal immigration, showed that 51 percent of immigrant-led households receive at least one type of welfare benefit. The figures are even worse for households with children, of which 76 percent are receiving welfare.
The Federation for American Immigration Reform adds that the burden would only worsen if amnesty is granted. Its report found that while the new legal status would marginally increase tax collections from the illegal alien population, it would also make them eligible for Social Security retirement benefits, as well as a number of other assistance programs.
According to former Republican Texas Congressman Ron Paul, illegal immigration is a symptom of a bigger problem, which is the welfare state. Paul accused the federal government of subsidizing illegal immigration through housing subsidies, food stamps, free medical care, and other types of welfare. By eliminating the welfare state, the American people could rest assured that “everyone coming to American wanted to work hard and support himself,” he said.
In other words, the solution to illegal immigration is to simply disincentivize it by ending the welfare state. But who amongst the 2016 presidential contenders has the guts to address that?