Why are some politicians anti-family? Sojourners, a progressive Christian publication, illustrates how the Sensenbrenner-King crack-the-stick immigration reform bill can hurt families.
Diana Villanueva-Hoeckley is a 19-year-old college student in California. Her mother came to the United States legally and then brought Diana here illegally when she was 7 because her visa request was turned down. Ms. Villanueva died while Diana was in high school, leaving her and her American-born younger sister alone. An American family who knew Diana’s little sister adopted the girls.
If only the story could move on from there to focus on the life experiences that all families look to create. But most families do not face criminal prosecution. Yet, Diana may one day soon be charged as a felon for illegally immigrating to this country 13 years ago. And her adoptive parents also could be criminally charged for aiding and abetting an illegal immigrant.
Legislation currently being debated in the U.S. House of Representatives actually contains these provisions. Diana cannot believe this is happening in a country she has come to love. “I’m shocked that people don’t see me as someone who belongs here; this is my home,” she told me sadly. Though Diana was legally adopted by the Hoeckleys, in many renditions of the legislation she would not be protected. And now that she is 19, she would be prosecuted as an adult.
“I look around and see so many immigrants here who are working so hard to make a good life,” Diana said. “Why can’t people see the big picture?”
Indeed, the big picture tells a different story to the political fear-mongering on immigration. The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that nearly 12 million undocumented immigrants are living in the U.S. A number of studies demonstrate that they are anything but a “drain” on the U.S. economy as is widely feared. Douglass S. Massey, a Princeton University professor, has documented the contributions of undocumented workers to the government: 62% have taxes withheld from their paychecks, and 66% pay Social Security. Their payments to Social Security totalled $7 billion in 2004, and in the same year they paid $1.5 billion to Medicare. Ironically, Massey found these workers usually don’t take advantage of these programs, fearing the INS will be alerted to their presence in this country, Forbes reported.
Sojourners: The Christian face of immigration
Andy in Harrisburg