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  1. #1
    Senior Member Brian503a's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    California or ground zero of the invasion

    Immigrants in S. Florida say $3,000 in fees, fines no obstac

    Immigrants in S. Florida say $3,000 in fees, fines no obstacle to legality

    By Ruth Morris
    South Florida Sun-Sentinel

    June 15, 2006

    Dogged by guilt at having left her children behind, desperate to see them again, Leticia worked feverishly cleaning homes until she'd saved $8,000. That was the whopping sum a smuggler charged to bring her small daughter from a hardscrabble barrio in Honduras to a grassy suburb in Boynton Beach.

    So, when the U.S. Senate passed a bill last month that would require immigrants to pay $3,000 to cross another frontier -- the one into legality -- she didn't blink at the price tag.

    "I don't have a complaint for $3,000, for penalties, for taxes," she said, ticking off the bill's laundry list of requirements. "I don't care," she shrugged. "I don't care."

    Like millions of illegal immigrants, Leticia hopes the Senate proposal will become law and open a path to legal status for her and her family. But first, she would have to master English, prove she's been in the United States for at least two years, pay any income tax she owes and write a check for more than $3,000 in fees and fines. Then she would have to pass the same American history test as someone applying for citizenship.

    Given this long list of conditions, some policy analysts question just how far illegal immigrants are willing to go to emerge from their precarious status. But according to immigration specialists, and a recent poll, the answer is: pretty far.

    A vivacious 29-year-old who asked to be identified only by her first name because of her illegal status, Leticia already studies English not to appease legislators, but to better communicate with her son's teachers.

    "My son has problems with concentration," she explained from a classroom at Boynton Beach's nonprofit Women's Circle, a room crammed with eight chairs and a donated sewing machine pushed into a corner.

    "I want to help, but I don't understand the work he comes home with," she said, her eyes suddenly welling with tears. "I feel powerless. He can't do it and I can't help him."

    As for fines and back taxes, Leticia shrugged off the suggestion that they might be too steep. She said she would find a way to pay.

    Nonetheless, immigrant advocates who applaud the Senate overhaul say they are concerned its financial provisions could price some immigrants out of work visas. The legislation initially proposed fees and fines of $2,000 -- the average cost to an immigrant hiring a smuggler to get him or her across the Mexican border. A series of last-minute amendments boosted that amount and added surcharges for border enforcement. The overall cost rose to $3,250 per person.

    "We think it might discourage some people from coming forward and that would be contrary to the spirit of the legislation. We want as many people to come out of the shadows as possible," said Michelle Waslin, a policy analyst for the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic advocacy group that wants per-family caps on fees.

    An April survey of 233 illegal immigrants showed almost all -- 96 percent -- were willing to comply with criminal checks and fingerprinting to acquire legal status, while 70 percent were willing to pay back taxes. A smaller group, 58 percent, said they would pay a $2,000 fine. The survey included 45-minute interviews with illegal immigrants from Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami, and was sponsored by the National Immigration Forum and the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research -- both advocates for wider avenues for legal immigration.

    Pollster Sergio Bendixen said the results showed immigrants would go a long way to legalize their status, but were limited by what they could afford.

    "They were willing to pay, they just weren't sure where they could get the money," Bendixen said. "A lot of these people make $15,000 to $20,000 a year."

    Colombian-born Alvaro Tobar, 50, welcomed the Senate bill, but some of the conditions attached to legalization seemed "demanding," he said.

    Tobar, who lives in Parkland, received a work permit during the 1986 Immigration and Reform Control Act after presenting a bundle of bank statements, rent receipts and his library card as proof of residence. He later became a U.S. citizen.

    As for taxes, Tobar said he began paying them as soon as he had a Social Security number. That legalization program did not require him to pay back taxes or fines.

    "I lived the American dream," he said. "I started washing plates, I was a busboy ... and I said to myself, `I will have a restaurant.' Now, I have two, through hard work and rectitude," he said of his El Balcón de las Americas restaurants in Coral Springs and Margate, which serve Colombian three-potato soup and deep-fried plantains.

    "For those who want to legalize, $3,250 sounds like a lot," he said. "But I think it's still a good opportunity to come out of limbo."

    The fees and fines attached to the Senate proposal may give it some political mileage. Conservative Republicans have slammed the plan as an "amnesty" that rewards scofflaws, but some kind of restitution may help smooth the way for reconciliation with an enforcement-only immigration bill that passed the House last year.

    "They did break the law. You can't just say the rules don't mean anything," said Tamar Jacoby, senior fellow at the New York-based Manhattan Institute think tank. "The idea is they sort of did something wrong because we winked at them."

    For Leticia, struggling to get her tongue around compound consonants, amnesty and legalization amount to the same thing: a chance at a driver's license and a credit line.

    "With papers, an apartment is possible," she said, brightening. "A little apartment, for me and my children. This is my dream."

    Ruth Morris can be reached at or 305-810-5012.
    Support our FIGHT AGAINST illegal immigration & Amnesty by joining our E-mail Alerts at

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Wait let me wipe the tears out of my eyes and get a tissue.....

    Colombian-born Alvaro Tobar, 50, welcomed the Senate bill, but some of the conditions attached to legalization seemed "demanding," he said.
    DEMANDING, the nerve. Who has been out in the streets demanding things they have no claim to? Who has been demanding my tax dollars support them?


    William, we really need a screaming emoticon...please.

  3. #3
    Senior Member gofer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Colombian-born Alvaro Tobar, 50, welcomed the Senate bill, but some of the conditions attached to legalization seemed "demanding," he said.
    Well, let's make sure we don't "demand" too much of them. After all they never "DEMAND" anything of us, right? Geez, I think I'm going to be sick!

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jan 1970


    "The idea is they sort of did something wrong because we winked at them."
    So, its OK to offer amnesty because, after all, we did entice them over here. We are the hooker winking and blowing kisses at them. To accuse them of wrongdoing now is entrapment.


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