May 16, 2013

On top of everything else Congress is arguing about in the great Immigration Debate, now there’s a lawyer and a lawyer-wannabe who think we also need to include language to help protect the immigrant’s consumer rights once he becomes a legal U.S. citizen. It’s too much. Doesn’t anyone out there remember that these “undocumented citizens” are actually in our country illegally? By their own choice?

Huffington Post bloggers Joseph Sanderson and Norman I. Silber believe there looms on the horizon a “positive change” for the estimated 12 million Americans whose “immigration status is unauthorized.” (Sounds like they both got the AP memo about “illegal aliens,” right?) But they also believe that once these “Americans whose immigration status is unauthorized” become legal American citizens, they’re going to be plagued by consumer difficulties and we need to do everything within our power to help them make the transition as smoothly as possible.

“Congress therefore should look directly at the experiences faced in the everyday marketplace by those who are undocumented, including at their subjection to deceptive and abusive practices, discouragements from joining the mainstream economy, and the difficulties using consumer remedies without fear of deportation.”

For example, the gentlemen point out that undocumented immigrant consumers have a difficult time setting up bank accounts. They also can’t get credit cards or loans. And the “pathway to citizenship” requires lots of documents, forms and fees.

First, Sanderson and Silber want to know if it’s possible for Congress to include some special clause that will allow these fees to be “engineered to avoid punishing people for being poor, unbanked, and ineligible for decent credit terms?”

Could we possibly waive those fees or stretch them out over a lengthy period of time? Or maybe we could dip into the government coffers and set up some type of subsidy program, which the American taxpayers would surely be happy to pay for.

Next, Sanderson and Silber want Congress to address the problem of “inadequate professional advice and depredations by dishonest immigrations advisers” these undocumented citizens might come up against. What happens if they inadvertently hand their money to a scammer who promises to help them obtain legal citizenship and then disappears with their cash?

The two bloggers argue that “immigrants who fear being deported can’t be expected to exercise the right to protest violations of their consumer rights without fear of retaliation.”

Joseph Sanders byline says he’s a first-year law student at Yale. Norman I. Silber’s byline says he’s a Visiting Professor of Law at Yale. Surely both gentlemen understand that the terms “undocumented citizens,” “Americans whose immigration status is unauthorized”, “those who are undocumented” and “immigrants who fear being deported” all stand for the same thing – illegal immigrants. People who are in our country illegally, of their own free will.

If they were adults when they came here, they knew the laws, and they knew those laws would eventually affect their children. If they were brought here as children, then they have ample time to follow the laws before they’re in danger of being deported. Plenty of children who were brought here illegally have managed to gain legal status.

Granted, the laws may be confusing and convoluted, and it would be nice if the legal waters were easier to navigate. But isn’t it about time that everybody stopped, took a deep breath, and stopped listening to all of this rhetoric about how granting these illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship will be good for the economy, and America is facing a shortage of workers, and we need “better, brighter” workers?

The simple fact is – these people, for whatever reason, are in this country illegally. They’re breaking the law.

If you, an American citizen, smuggled yourself into a foreign country without papers or a passport you’d automatically know you were committing a crime. You’d also be prepared to do whatever it took to become a legal citizen of that country or suffer the consequences. But you wouldn’t blame your problems on that country and you wouldn’t expect them to take care of your problems for you.

Congress has enough on their plate trying to figure out how to smooth out the pathway to citizenship and protect our borders at the same time. Do we really need to spend more time and money trying to protect the consumer rights of people who have no respect for our laws?

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