Hopes Rise That U.S. Will Adopt Fair Policies for Immigrants

Article excerpt

Catholic and other immigrant advocates have expressed optimism about the chances for new laws and regulations that they hope will make immigration more legal, orderly and safe, including amnesty for some people in the United States illegally.

Mexican President Vicente Fox has made it clear that he would like the U.S. border with his country to become more open.

President Bush seems to be supporting some of Fox's proposals.

At a July 18 news conference at the Capitol, a handful of senators and a spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voiced their support for a legalization program.

"We are heartened by reports that the administration is considering legalization," said Kevin Appleby, director of migration and refugee policy for the bishops' Migration and Refugee Services. He urged that a general legalization be a component of any U.S.-Mexico agreement.

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles urged Bush and Fox to make progress on addressing the amnesty needs of immigrant workers, speaking in a keynote address to workers and organizers in Los Angeles at the convention of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union.

"While immigrant workers continue to be a vital part of our economy, their immigration status leaves them vulnerable to many different types of abuses in the workplace," Mahony said. The cardinal told the union audience that he had urged action on amnesty in a letter to Bush.

Washington Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, in a Washington Post op-ed column July 22, voiced support for new immigration legislation, noting the need to reform the U.S. asylum system. "The United States needs to move away from a policy that considers strategic interests first and humanitarian principles second," he said.

Fox addressed the issue at the July 17 meeting in Milwaukee of the National Council of La Raza, an umbrella group of Hispanic community and advocacy organizations. He described components he would like to see in a migration agreement between the two countries. He would include: granting legal status to illegal immigrants; expanding the number of family-member visas available to Mexicans; expanding the system of work visas so more Mexicans can be employed legally in the United States; allowing Mexicans living in the United States, regardless of legal status, to have drivers' licenses and access to in-state college tuition; and boosting economic support to Mexico, so fewer people would feel compelled to emigrate.

Fox's speech came shortly after word that Bush is considering an amnesty program that could allow about 3 million Mexicans who are living in the United States illegally to legalize their status. …