With more than 11 million illegal immigrants living in his country, US President Barack Obama has a huge problem in his hands. The House of Representatives, dominated by the Republicans, continues to shoot down his proposals for reforms on a number of issues but the looming problem of over-stayers has got the White House in a defiant mood.
He has threatened to enforce the ‘Immigration Reform Bill’ this year, which ‘would build a smart, effective immigration system that continues efforts to secure US borders and cracks down on employers who hire undocumented immigrants.’
Mr Obama has said that his plan would require anyone who is undocumented to get right with the law by paying their taxes and a penalty, learning English, and undergoing background checks before they can be eligible to earn citizenship.
“The Plan would require every business and every worker to play by the same set of rules,” he said in a statement.
We should be forgiven if the American scene appears familiar to our own situation in New Zealand, although the number of illegal immigrants or over-stayers may not be alarming – at least not yet.
But the problem of illegal immigrants has never been addressed seriously by any Government in recent years. There is a certain inexplicable sense of complacency that we have permitted into the system.
But the reforms being considered by New Zealand Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse could bring ‘people in shadows’ to light.
While the existence of over-stayers cannot be condoned, their rising number within the extended Indian community is cause for alarm. For, most of them are subject to misuse and abuse by unscrupulous employers. It is time for change.
Indians from India should be proud of their country, which has taken significant strides under open market reforms and according to forecasts it would be one of the most powerful economies in the world in not too distant a future.
Notwithstanding the fact that Indian talent is recognised and rewarded worldwide, Indians who are unable to obtain a legal status in a country of visit should return home.
Over-stayers are an unwanted minority everywhere. New Zealand has a share of its problems in this area.
Human traffickers have contributed to the problem but in many cases, the fault lies squarely on individuals, for, had they curbed the urge to ‘somehow reach a First World country,’ they would not have landed themselves into trouble.
The Government wants them to go home.
Officials say immigration is an integral aspect of economic growth and demographic balance but not at any cost.
They want talent, those who can make a positive contribution to progress but such talent should come through proper channels.
Hundreds of visitors have regularised their stay in this country, following the regulations in force and today they are proud members of a prosperous society. But there are hundreds more who either remain in hiding or lead a substandard life.
New Zealand, like the US, Canada and Australia, is made up of migrants and immigration would always be the drive of population growth.
And New Zealand, like others, is a target for those on the wrong side of the law.
Some prominent figures in the Western world are proposing a new way of looking at the problem. Migrants who seek jobs should be encouraged and rich and poor countries should agree on how to manage the process.
A large number of people in our communities have said that over-stayers should be sent to their home countries, because “it is unfair to regularise their stay, while thousands of potential migrants wait in a long and never-ending queue.”