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Inviting Immigrants Out of the Shadows

Immigrants rally in Philadelphia
Immigrants rally in Philadelphia on Day of National Action, April 10, 2006. Photo by Michael Perez for Philadelphia Inquirer/KRT
Common sense immigration policies for a globalized world

Raise living standards in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. We should work with our neighbors south of the border to strengthen small- and medium-sized enterprises— the sector that employs the largest number of people in Latin America. We should also look for ways to make the money sent home by immigrants a transformative force for sustainable local development

Reopen the debate on the future of the Latin American countryside. We should stop promoting export-oriented agribusiness and instead support small-farmer organizations around the world in their call for food sovereignty. The right to regulate domestic agricultural production and trade in order to achieve sustainable development objectives is the core principle of food sovereignty. We should also support fair trade, through which farmers receive fair compensation for their products.

Reduce the economic insecurities that are fueling the anti-immigrant backlash in the United States through raising the minimum wage, strengthening labor laws to protect unions, expanding public health care, and increasing training benefits—particularly for those displaced by economic globalization.

Cancel impoverished countries' crippling debts, without imposing onerous conditions that deepen poverty or degrade the environment. We should press industrialized nations and multilateral financial institutions on this count. Organized groups of immigrants could play a strong role in demanding that their governments of origin apply savings from debt cancellation to much-needed investments in human resource development.

Devise a set of policies that bring immigrants out of the shadows and allow them to contribute fully to the well-being of our country. These policies should include provisions for family reunification. Every foreigner residing in the U.S. should have the opportunity to become a legal permanent resident, with provisions for becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen in the future. Anyone who decides to remain outside the law should be identified, investigated, and, if proved to be a threat, deported.

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