Bush policy no solution to immigration issues Rigoberto Rueda understands concerns the immigrant population has about the new immigration policy proposed by President Bush. The policy would allow illegal immigrants currently living in this country to come forward and receive a three-year work visa. Though the policy would grant legal status on a temporary basis, people worry the policy won’t allow additional opportunities for a permanent legal status. Rigoberto Rueda, a U.S. citizen with relatives in Mexico, is unsure about new immigration policies. Rueda, a United States citizen born in California to parents who emigrated from Mexico in the 1970s, says, “Most people I talked to said they are afraid that they would have to leave after their visa was up.” Gisella Yacaman, director of immigration at the Hispanic Center, supported Rueda’s view, saying, “Most people will be scared to come forward because they know in six years they would have to leave.” After living in the United States for a few years, people have homes, bills and families with children in school. Businesses, especially in the service and hospitality industry, are backing the proposal. David Holt, director of congressional affairs for the Indiana State Chamber of Commerce, said the Chamber supports the proposal because “The service and hospitality industry cannot find enough Hoosiers to fill these positions.” Another benefit of the program to businesses would be the documentation of illegal workers. According to the 2000 census, the number of illegal immigrants in Indiana stands at about 45,000, three times the number here in 1990. Businesses regularly confront the issue of hiring workers with false identification. One restaurant manager who asked not to be named says, “It would help businesses if they didn’t have to worry if the people they were hiring were here legally.” The proposal is a sensitive one, especially at a time when the rate of job creation in this country is the lowest since the early 1930s. But a shortage of workers in service and hospitality industries remains an issue because the lower wage positions aren’t attractive to most American job seekers accustomed to making higher wages. An estimated 2.3 million jobs have been lost during the current Bush Administration. And recent job creation has only been at an average rate of 73,000 jobs a month over the past five months. Holt says, “Most of the jobs lost were high wage, low skill jobs.” These are jobs that, according to Holt, “have been transferred to other countries and will not be returning.” But to people in Rueda’s hometown, these jobs are desirable. “People only make $2 or $3 an hour. They work 12 or 13 hours a day. That is why they are coming over.” Rueda also says that most of the people from that town have tried to cross the border at least once. He says, “Pretty much everybody I know has tried to come to the U.S.” He adds, “If Mexico had a minimum wage, most people would want to stay in Mexico.” The problem of low wages was echoed by the Hispanic Center’s Yacaman, who says, “Most Central American countries do not pay a living wage.” She would like the policy to give immigrants the chance to apply for permanent residency. Both Yacaman and Rueda say that the proposed policy most likely will not stop illegal immigration. Rueda says, “People only want to come here to make money to send home to their families.”

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