Jose Ybarra believes immigration is mainly beneficial to the United States of America . He supports the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), a group that opposes laws which restrict Hispanic immigration and tries to ensure that illegal immigrants know about available sources of assistance.
Jose came to America illegally in 1988 and was employed as a farm labourer in California . He worked long hours for the minimum wage. Between 1988 and 1995 he picked lettuces for a series of different employers and sent money home to his family in Mexico . In 1995 he began a more skilled and better paid job and managed to send more money home. In 1999 he tried to apply for legal status and started planning to bring his family to America . He is still, however, an undocumented worker.
Jose worries about the opinion polls which indicate that the American public is increasingly unsympathetic to illegal immigrants. Although other polls indicate that many people realise that the issue is complex, he worries that groups like the Minutemen are influencing policy.
Jose agrees with the NCLR and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) both of whom publicise studies showing how immigrants help to create employment, not unemployment. One of these studies indicated that immigrants pay more than $90 billion in taxes every year and receive only $5billion in welfare payments.
Jose and his friends have never had a problem finding work. He reckons American legislators will eventually have to face up to the fact that immigrants already in the country illegally, and those waiting across the border in Mexico , are essential labour. He reckons it's only a matter of time before the politicians find a legal way of getting them into the country to work and of keeping them.
Despite the huge demand for labour, opposition remains to political reform which would make large scale immigration legal.
Incredibly, it is already possible for illegal workers to pay tax in the USA . But only a fraction of them do and it's estimated there are ten million in the USA , so a great deal of tax goes unpaid. Jose's employer takes money from his pay check to pay the required tax; but Jose knows of a number of his friends who are self employed who do not pay tax on their income. The government would like to collect these taxes. For security reasons too, it would like to be able to track who is in the country. Brutal methods are often used to smuggle workers. Jose has heard horror stories from some of his friends and family about the journeys they endured across the border. His cousin suffered severe dehydration and almost died after being left by his guide in the middle of the desert without water or provisions. If there were legal channels into the USA , this illegal trade might be avoided.
Jose supports the McCain-Kennedy Bill because he believes it would reduce the need for many to come to the country illegally.
“This legislation is welcome at a time when the current U.S. immigration system is in need of fundamental reform. The current immigration laws are out of tune with our country's economy, and millions of close family members remain in visa backlogs for years, waiting to be reunited with their families. Furthermore, more immigrants are paying large sums to smugglers and risking their lives to work and be reunited with their families; the number of border deaths has increased dramatically in recent years, now reaching nearly one death per day.
There are approximately eight to ten million undocumented immigrants living and working in the U.S. , filling essential gaps in the labour market while enduring low wages and poor working conditions. These workers often live in the shadows of society, often using false identification documents and fearful of reporting crimes to the police.
NCLR supports the “Secure America Act.” By legalizing immigrants who live, work and contribute to life in the U.S. , the U.S. could deal fairly with hardworking people who have responded to an economic reality ignored by the law. At the same time, the U.S. can become more secure by enforcing the new law and by allowing undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows and participate fully in their communities.