I read Mr. Shultz’ opinion column and felt compelled to respond. In this day of a need for instant gratification and to be spoon fed our opinions Mr. Shultz does exactly what he accuses Mr. Jastrzemski of. He took the incredibly complex issue of immigration and made it about driver’s licenses and heartbreaking photos and insinuated the two are connected and Mr. Jastrzemski is in support of people dying at the border.
There’s not enough space to fully jump into this but hopefully this will encourage at least some of you to dig deeper into the immigration issue. Please remember what we’re discussing here. Legal Immigration vs. Undocumented Illegal Immigration. To put it another way Houseguest vs. Burglar. I wonder if Mr. Shultz has reached out to any individuals who immigrated to this country legally. I’ve done a small sampling of friends and acquaintances who went through the process and they see it as a “slap in the face.” They feel that the undocumented immigrants are being viewed as their representative voice, when in fact it’s political exploitation.
Have you ever heard of Canada or Switzerland having these issues? Topic for another time but if you’re bored you can find their immigration policies very easily. Here’s a section from the Swiss immigration policy with changes for 2018. (By the way you have to be a “resident” for at least 10 years in most cases before being eligible to apply.)
A new Swiss Citizenship Act will come into force in January 2018, which will substantially change the Swiss citizenship requirements, the most notable being that applicants must hold a settlement C permit to qualify. Residents in Switzerland who currently qualify for becoming a Swiss citizen are being advised to review whether their rights to Swiss citizenship will be revoked under the new measures, which are predicted to affect some 650,000 foreigners in Switzerland. Other reforms include unifying certain conditions across the cantons, for example, requirements to show language fluency and not accessing any social welfare benefits in the three years before applying. (www.expatica.com January 29, 2019)
Let’s get back on topic. I’ll outlined some of the LEGAL work programs provided by the United States.
• Work visas — A visa is a document that provides authorization for travel to and admittance to the United States. Before visiting, working, or immigrating to the U.S., a citizen of a foreign country generally must first obtain a U.S. visa. The visa provides entry to the U.S. and, depending on the type of visa obtained, may provide authorization for employment in the U.S.
• Green cards — It is possible to become a permanent resident of the United States through a job or offer of employment. There is also a lottery program that provides a limited number of green cards for successful applicants. This program runs each year and provides 50,000 “Green Cards” to applicants randomly selected in a lottery process.
• U.S. Exchange Visitor (J) non-immigrant visas are available for individuals approved to participate in work and study-based exchange visitor programs. These visas allow visitors to experience life in the U.S., before returning to their home countries with an appreciation for the American culture and lifestyle.
• U.S. Temporary Non-Agricultural (H-2B) visas are available for foreign workers in non-agricultural fields to work in the United States, given that there is an insufficient number of domestic laborers to fill the position. H-2B visas are generally used for jobs that are temporary, though not agricultural – for example, jobs at ski resorts, hotels, beach resorts, or amusement parks. Also in this category falls Crab Pickers in the Blue Crab industry on the Maryland and Virginia Eastern Shore. Whole crab and picked crab prices can vary greatly depending on the number of available visas. So in this case a shortage of visas may incent individuals to cross illegally.
• U.S.H-1B non-immigrant visas are for skilled, educated individuals employed in specialized occupations. The H1-B visa enables foreign workers to temporarily work for a specific employer in the United States. A recent Buffalo News article touched on how this directly affects job openings and wages for females in the tech industry.
• US Seasonal Agricultural Worker (H2-A) visas are available for foreign agricultural workers to work in the U.S. on a seasonal or temporary basis, provided that there is a shortage of domestic workers. These can be obtained by the “food pickers” Mr. Shultz refers to. Many times these individuals simply overstay their visa and remain in the country illegally.
As you can see this process is incredibly complex with many moving parts. Maintaining accurate numbers for individuals here legally is hard enough. How does Mr. Shultz suggest we get those accurate numbers of undocumented immigrants he’s asked for? What mechanism could we use? Oh I know, we could document them on the census! Nope shot down by the powers that be in Washington. Oh, here’s a second idea ... We could document them when they come in for their license. Nope shot down by our state government as reckless and unfairly targeting those individuals. Yet, when U.S. citizens or those here legally visit a DMV, the employees are required by the state of New York to document and save that paperwork. Tried to get your enhanced license or real id recently? How much fun was that?
Does anyone remember 9/11 or the 9/11 Commission and the reason we now have “no-fly lists.” Has anyone watched World News lately? What is the new tool for terrorist groups? Vehicles! Unfortunately, what Mr. Shultz and many people do when firing up the spoon feeders is fail to mention that immigrants don’t just come from Mexico and Central America.
Immigration issues have been used for political leverage by BOTH parties going back to the Carter Administration. Does anyone truly believe that Americans take pleasure in watching people suffer at the border? I applaud Mr. Shultz for his work with UNICEF, It’s a noble undertaking. I remember collecting for UNICEF as a child when the money was sent to fight starvation and disease in Africa. Has that problem gone away or is it just more politically popular to talk about our immigration crisis and what horrible people Republicans are? Congress was put on notice long ago that this problem was escalating at a fevered pitch. A multi-billion dollar aid package was just passed but only after much posturing on BOTH sides!
So please, the next time someone tells you this is just about driver’s licenses and immigrant voting conspiracies, don’t drink the Kool-Aid. A whole bunch of people did that in Guyana in the late 1970s and it didn’t end well.
Todd A. O’Bryan is a resident of North Tonawanda.