By AMANDA VENDER

President Bush added his voice to the simmering immigration debate with a national televised address on May 15. His most controversial proposal was to deploy 6,000 U.S. National Guard troops to the U.S.–Mexico border. Immigrant advocates point out that enforcement at this border has already been costly, but it hasn’t stopped border crossings.

Instead, it has caused the deaths of some 4,000 people in the desert over the last 12 years. People still risk crossing the desert because they need jobs. But they cannot get the documents they need to enter and work legally in the United States.

On May 26 the Senate passed an immigration bill that must now be merged with the House immigration bill before a final vote. The Senate bill includes measures that put more border patrol agents and fences at the U.S.–
Mexico border, and provide a way for some immigrants to become legal residents after waiting several years. People without documents who have been in the U.S. for less than two years would be required to leave.

“Immigrants should be given legal status to work in the U.S. and they should not be treated as second-class citizens,” said Leah Obias of Ugnayan, a Filipino youth group in New York City that works with Immigrant Communities in Action, a coalition of local immigrant organizations.

“None of the proposals being discussed offer genuine legalization or justice for immigrants. As communities who are directly affected by these laws, we need to fight for what we truly want and deserve.”

Teachers: for curriculum ideas on immigration, visit www.nycore.org.