Hanging in the balance | June 21, 2013 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |
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Cover Story - June 21, 2013

Hanging in the balance

Undocumented 'Dreamers' await passage of immigration legislation that would change their lives

by Elena Kadvany

For the first time since 1986, the U.S. Congress is poised to overhaul the nation's immigration laws.

This story contains 4458 words.

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Editorial Assistant Elena Kadvany can be emailed at [email protected]


Posted by Green Card Holder
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 21, 2013 at 8:30 am

Illegal immigrants should not get any path to citizenship, but I have no objection to giving them the same rights as visa holders or green card holders.

I have a green card and I am here legally. It costs me money, professional legal services, and a test, apart from time and energy for me to get citizenship. I have already had to have tb test and fingerprinting too. Giving illegals something that I have to go through hoops to get is wrong.

I have no strong opinion on giving them a blue card which does not give them a US passport, voting or jury rights. Giving them more rights than I have is unfair to those of us who are here legally

Posted by Calliope Sunshine
a resident of Los Altos
on Jun 21, 2013 at 8:46 am

GC Holder - you got yours, pull the ladder up behind you? That's what's wrong with my party these days, they won't ewven allow the farm bill to help feed the poor. JC is ashamed somewhere...

This was the response to your post in the other thread, which mysteriously vanished (gremlins!) I'll repeat under you post here.

As a fiscal conservative, decreasing the federal deficit by $197 billion sounds good.

And I suppose it was good enough for Reagan to amnesty everyone, so why not do it again?

Frankly, in raw political terms, until the GOP amnesties everyone, they will continue to get clobbered at national elections. Obama won hispanics 70-30 last time out. But they say Texas will turn blue in a decade or so, due to the hispanic vote, so maybe it doesn't make a difference. Without Texas in the future, Romney's landslide blowout will look like a picnic!

2016 may be the last chance this version of the GOP has to take the white house. No wonder they're fabricating things about Hillary already. They'll also have to shave the person of color vote down by 20 or more points. Tough row to hoe...

Gotta get used to a blue world. I'm Calli in Cali, after all...

Posted by Green Card Holder
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 21, 2013 at 8:49 am


Reread my post. I am happy to give you the same as me, just don't expect to get more than me.

Posted by slippery slope
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 21, 2013 at 8:52 am

Whatever scheme and thousands of pages of a bill is agreed upon, with who knows what costly plans like requirements to learn English (ha!) -- at whose expense, how, who will test, what will the threshold be -- just ridiculous-- it will lead to open borders and a heavy dependency class. We taxpayers, citizens, green card holders, all those who came here legally (or our ancestors did) CANNOT afford to let the entire world in here to become our dependents.
-We don't know who comes in. Improve border security, add to the southern border fences. Immediately deport any illegal aliens who come into contact with any law enforcement.
-Many illegals commit crime and fill our prisons and jails.
-Health is not checked; now we have problems with TB and other diseases.
-Test scores have plummeted in places like CA, and costs have risen astronomically owing to free lunch programs, bilingual ed, and other bennies handed out to illegals
- Illegals may have fake driving licenses; they DO cause accidents/injuries/deaths and don't have auto insurance
- Enemies of the U.S., from drug cartels to Islamic terrorists, to uneducated persons can enter any time, contrary to the practices of other countries that have closed borders, sensible policies that are enforced.
Why should all this be given a pass in THIS country when it is NOT in other countries?!
All we need to do is enforece our current federal law, enforce our sovereignty and borders like any other country. Require E-verify for employment. Stop the practice of foreigners coming here to give birth to anchor babies. I strongly disagree this will end with one simple scheme; it will lead to a rush to enter our country illegally, and then continuing waves. We need to take the attractive candy away: free education/bilingual education, free healthcare and all the other bennies. Sanctuary cities should be sued for violation of current federal law.

Posted by Slippery Slope Fallacies
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 21, 2013 at 10:40 am

At least poster Slippery Slope correctly identifies her fallacious style of logic - the dreaded slippery slope!

The dreaded slippery slope, ie.. if we let in illegal aliens, pretty soon it leads to a slippery slope of letting in real aliens, and then, the next thing you know, Will Smith is helping an extraterrestrial alien give birth in the back of a 66 Dodge Polara station wagon!

Could happen.


Or we can defeat her silly slippery slope statements with substitution. Instead of Latinos, let's substitute, Italians, Irish, African Americans, Whites or, HEAVEN FORBID, Palo Altans:

- the IRISH are "a heavy dependency class."

- "Immediately deport any ITALIANS who come into contact with any law enforcement." (hey, they're just mobbed up! props to the late great Gandolfini!)

- "Many (substitute) AFRICAN AMERICANS commit crime and fill our prisons and jails." Yeah, try and sell that one in a public forum, all you imagination haters!

- from Native Americans "Health is not checked; THOSE DAMN EUROPEANS! now we have problems with TB and other diseases."

- from the Dust Bowl era (think Steinbeck): "Test scores have plummeted in places like CA, and costs have risen astronomically owing to free lunch programs, bilingual ed, and other bennies handed out to WHITES FROM OKLAHOMA!!!!"

- think of the early 1940's: "Enemies of the U.S., from drug cartels to Islamic terrorists, to uneducated persons can enter any time, contrary to the practices of other countries that have closed borders, sensible policies that are enforced -- THROW ALL THE JAPS INTO CAMPS!!!"

- let's just localize it: "Palo Altans DO cause accidents/injuries/deaths and (sometimes)don't have auto insurance"

It's a slippery slope, I tell ya...

Web Link


(funny that Fox is now supporting immigration and leaving the fringe way out on the right!)


Posted by betterthannobill
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2013 at 12:56 pm

1. What is crazy is that it takes 867 pages to craft a bill to deal with this subject.
2. More crazy is that so many people are known and have been known as undocumented illegals (else how were names obtained and interviews done). Why has so little legal action been taken over the past decades? It might have alleviated our current situation. Or if 'sweeps' had been done regularly, it might have caused us to address the problem before it got this big.
3. I am glad that we are not giving blanket amnesty. I agree that being here illegally should not let you bypass the line entirely.
4. However, I think the 10+3 year plan is probably reasonable. It is certainly not possible now to deport 11+ million people. And I am highly in favor of the DREAM program; it was not the kids fault.
5. Notwithstanding their illegal status, many (probably most) of those 11 million are normal people trying to lead regular lives. I suspect that only a small portion are persons that the government should actively seek to find and deport.

Posted by Seniora de biblioteca
a resident of another community
on Jun 21, 2013 at 1:19 pm

1."Soto moved in with his mother and stepfather on Emerson Street in Palo Alto" - isn't it a public (affortable rates) housing? prime location with rents (depending on income) $600-1,400?

2.parents of pofessionals with two incomes also live there - the children who brought those parents in after becoming US citizens (either techies formerly on H-visas or Jewish or other refugees) taking advantage of chip housing

3. yes, we need to legalize the children who were brought here illigally, but with condition that they cannot sponsor brining members of their families in

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 21, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Is there a math error in the 22-year-old's license showing an April 1989 birthdate?

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 21, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Green Card Holder - I appreciate your perspective. Living amongst undocumented folks, I experience the upside & downside ongoingly. My spouse is a green card holder & my father a legal immigrant who's been a citizen for decades.

On the undocumented folks' behalf, let me say, they do seem to pay in sweat equity, repression & fear. They don't have the freedom that you do, or that my spouse does. They're often afraid to engage in the community, & the schools & cities suffer as a result. Their financial restrictions are great, so they create workarounds that are often also illegal & create inconveniences for folks like me. They trap themselves w/their own illegal status here, but for them life is better.

I once worked w/an undocumented teenager who'd recently marched for rights in some parade, using the Mexican flag. I was surprised at how appalled I was. I advised her if she wanted respect & support for her cause, to use the American flag in her marches, since after all, this is the country where she wanted to stay.

I also get angry with how I get treated, as a woman, but a lot of the men in my area. It's despicable - & their gender doesn't entitle them to share my rights, as a citizen. Of course, that has nothing to do w/legal status, but I guess my attitude is that if you're circumspect & respectful, don't make waves, do your work & live a quiet life, any chances at amnesty will be easier.

I'd love to see the impact of Latina women in this area in a few decades, once they have a chance at citizenship, education & equality!

Posted by A single truth
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 21, 2013 at 11:31 pm

One truth is that whenever foreigners, legal or not, just visiting, on vacation, on a business trip, or whatever, enter this country their health status is never checked, even when they are obviously sick! I think the US and Thailand are the only countries with airports that let travelers in regardless of their health status!

A friend of ours was detained in quarantine for three weeks because he had a residual cough from a cold... This was at Narita Airport outside of Tokyo. He had no fever or congestion, just a tickle in his throat, but it was mandatory that he be quarantined due to his cough. he was released two weeks after the conference he was there to attend was over!

In my European travels, I have been pulled aside and questioned about my health and exposure to any communicable diseases many times, even though I showed absolutely no sign of illness.

Why does this country allow people who are coughing, sniffling, blowing their noses, flush with fever, wearing masks, broken out in rashes, etc to enter at will? Why do their own countries allow them to board a flight when obviously ill? This is how pandemics start!

Posted by Fed up
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 22, 2013 at 9:34 pm

No citizenship for illegals whose children (any age) put ugly graffiti all over the place. They should make sure their children behave responsibly. If they came to this country, they shouldn't make it ugly.

Posted by Enough Already!
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 23, 2013 at 11:44 am

Should there should be any numerical limits to how many immigrants the US accepts, and if so what should the limit be? Likewise, should we be concerned that the US has the highest rate of population growth of any high-consumption country, and should we aim to stabilize our population? If you are opposed to the latter, would you favor a program to grow our population by encouraging larger families, rather than by expanding immigration as the bill in Congress is intended to do?

Posted by Free Market
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 23, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Have the government " grow our population by encouraging larger families"?????

Wow. Really?

"and should we aim to stabilize our population?"

Do that and the stock market goes down immediately when that law becomes obvious.

Posted by Free Market
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 23, 2013 at 5:00 pm

It is, after all, the large corporations that are pushing immigration reform. They're the ones that got together and told Fox that it was ix-nay on the immigration bashing, and they stopped immediately. Corporations love cheap labor to drive wages down. Go look in the parking lot of a WalMart at night and see who is sub-contracted to clean it.

That's great, the free market at work so my tee shirts cost a dime less.

Who cares if my neighbor is unemployed?

Posted by Green Card Holder
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 23, 2013 at 7:05 pm

Immigration has two facets.

First off we have illegal immigration which is generally poor people who come here to better themselves.

Secondly, we have well educated immigrants who often come here for college either undergrads or post grads. Whether they come here with the intention of getting an education and returning home, they often choose to stay here. These people then often "import" family members, either parents to looks after their kids, or spouses from arranged marriages. Some come here to get high tech jobs and they of course also often bring family too.

Each of these types of immigrants cause different immigrant situations. My story is probably the same as many others, work but from working for an American company and obtaining an in house transfer. Getting here on a H1 or L1 visa, or student visa, and then obtaining a green card, is reasonably easy and often all the paperwork is done by the employer. Getting citizenship is not just as easy and is usually done by the individual without any help from the employer. It is also much easier to bring in other relatives once citizenship has been obtained. Also, once a visa holder or green card holder has a child here, that anchor child makes a huge difference to whether the parent stays or decides to go back to the old country. Once a child has been born and goes to school, it is a much more difficult situation to go back with an Americanized child who may not transfer well to a different educational system.

Putting all immigrants into the same discussion makes no sense. Many people, like myself, are fully contributing to the economy, creating much for the US to be proud and much for the welfare of US citizens. Many illegal immigrants do what US citizens may not want to do, but many of them on the other hand are just drains on the system.

When making comments, it is worth thinking that you can't put all situations in the same basket. What is true for one group, is not true for all.

Posted by PA parent
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 23, 2013 at 7:31 pm

I think where folks stand on relaxed immigration laws simply reflects whether they're looking to hire (skilled and/or low-wage) workers or looking for work themselves.

Posted by NationOfLaws
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 24, 2013 at 9:18 am

It never ceases to amaze me how selectively the media chooses to portray the illegal immigration topic. Judging by the media picture alone, every illegal immigrant is a paragon of virtue, hard work, and aspiration. They work hard! They pay taxes! They contribute to the economy by doing the jobs no American will do! They are to be pitied because of the precariousness of their existence here!

Very well. In some cases, sure, those things may be true. However, the media willfully turns a blind eye to the very negative consequences of illegal immigration. We have effectively been importing poverty for the past 40 years.

Have you visited the Fair Oaks neighborhood of Redwood City recently? It is a barrio. Looked at the performance of California schools? Middle class parents who value education won't even consider sending their kids to most of the public elementary schools in Redwood City because of the extremely high percentage of Spanish-speaking students, who inevitably drag down the education level of the schools.

Illegal immigration contributes tremendously to crime, gangs, and our prison population. Nortenos and Surenos, anyone? The quality of life gets dragged down in whole neighborhoods by illegal immigrants who, because of their poor incomes, double and triple up families in single family residences. Their high birth rate combined with their poor understanding of the value of education (and how to instill that value in their children) results in perpetuation and growth of a poorly educated underclass prone to social pathologies.

Immigration reform supporters have lately been touting a statistic about how much money the Federal government will save by "normalizing" the millions of illegal immigrants currently in the US. But what about the COSTS that we will incur once all of these people are legally eligible for social programs? An "open borders" policy in a welfare state is fiscal suicide.

Then there is the fairness issue. Anyone who has immigrated here legally, or has parents who have done so, should be absolutely outraged at the proposal to allow illegal immigrants a "free pass" into the citizenship line. The media's willful conflation of illegal and legal immigration ("We are a nation of immigrants") is utterly infuriating.

Sure, the personal situations of individual illegal immigrants can be sad, but that does not erase the fact that their situation is the result of breaking the law. And the heartstrings-tugging tales of struggle cannot and should not obscure the very real negative consequences of illegal immigration that the media chooses to ignore or simply minimize.

Posted by Chris Gaither
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 24, 2013 at 10:55 am

To Green Card Holder - thank you for your perspective. Yes, you are correct, there are two facets to immigration - documented, versus un-documented immigrants. How to control and "resolve" the un-documented matter, and whether the U.S. should increase the number of working visas to expand the tech work pool expertise (documented immigrants) are the two issues that politicians, and the American citizenry have challenges in deciding, and are at the center of this current debate - contributing to the level of difficulty, decision wise.

During the most recent recession starting in early 2008, and even up to now, the American work-force has experienced one of the highest periods of un-employment, under-employment, and lowest number of employed workers, thereby decreasing potential federal and state tax revenue, and of course personal income and savings. So, some Americans wonder why should the U.S. concentrate on increasing the number of work visas to people from other countries, when Americans can be trained to do the technical work? Of course, the core issue here is, do we have enough trained "existing" American workers who can fulfill the demands? Tech companies are answering, "No", emphatically.

On the un-documented side, why most people understand the courage, and perserverance it takes to leave one's country, and enter another country via jumping fences, or navigating un-safe roads and tunnels, the question of fairness arises - other people enter American by waiting for the proper documentation, and this is the way all people who want to come to America to reside, should enter the country. Some people wait years for approval to enter, and those who skip the hoops create a financial and space resource burden. How can a society allocate needed resources, when it does not have a firm "accounting" of those who need or would benefit from the resources?

Unfortunately, the current debate makes it looks as though America is choosing one ethnic group over another - hispanics who are the majority of un-documented workers versus people from China, Europe, India and Russia who are the majority of documented immigrants. The challenge, how to create reform that addresses and resolves the core issues, and does not appear to be based on ethnicity or race.

Posted by Marie
a resident of Portola Valley
on Jun 26, 2013 at 5:27 pm

As someone who was exposed to TV by an young, illegal immigrant, I strongly oppose giving any amnesty to illegals or their illegal children. Because of my exposure to TB, I now have to go through months of medication--and who will pay for that? I will. Because illegals do not go through health checks, they do indeed pose a health risk to the rest of us.

Incidentally, who do you think paid for that youth's and his family's TB treatment--you did!

Posted by nación de leyes
a resident of Portola Valley
on Jun 27, 2013 at 9:54 am

Marie: who does that kid's father work for? In Alabama he works for Tyson chicken. In the mid-west, it's a meat packing plant. In Texas, it's a construction crew.

Maybe here in CA, he works for a contractor who has crews cleaning the WalMart at night.

Throw the directors of those companies in jail! They broke the law and are the magnet for the illegals, they give them jobs!

Throw the CEO of every company into San Quentin for a night, for every illegal they hire or have subcontracted.

Let them share a cell with Bubba, and the hiring of illegals stops right away.

We are a nation of laws.

Unless you make a mill or two a year, then it's the illegals' fault.

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 27, 2013 at 11:07 am

Nacion - excellent points. Marie also conveniently forgets to mention thst many undocumented workers pay taxes, so they also paid for their treatment.

I'm curious as to how Marie was exposed to TB. How frightening & concerning! My great grandmother died of TB, but back then, even legals had it.

Posted by scientist
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 27, 2013 at 2:06 pm

I have no problem with amnesty for law-abiding, high-achieving kids w/o documentation. However, more H1B visas for foreign-born grad students and post docs will exacerbate an already terrible job market for US-born and -educated scientists, which does concern me.

Posted by nación de leyes
a resident of Portola Valley
on Jun 27, 2013 at 2:26 pm

"more H1B visas for foreign-born grad students and post docs will exacerbate an already terrible job market for US-born and -educated scientists"

But of course, makes more money for Bubba's cellmates. Far better to hire low wage engineers than US educated Americans.

That's who the immigration bill is written for; otherwise, it would not have rec'd the republican votes in the senate.

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 29, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Ah, yes - the bias against foreign born post-docs. I was wondering how long it would take someone to bring that up.

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