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L.A. County's Mixed Feelings On New Immigration Reform

Ashley Kim |
August 2, 2013 | 10:00 a.m. PDT

Guest contributor

Henry Waxman, Congressman of California's 33rd Congressional District/Congressman Waxman's Office
Henry Waxman, Congressman of California's 33rd Congressional District/Congressman Waxman's Office
Abraham Jimenez, is a 28-year-old the manager of a Smart & Final, is an immigrant who supports the legalization of undocumented immigrants. Jimenez came legally to the States from Mexico, but he believes that the undocumented workers that currently reside in the U.S. should be allowed to apply for citizenship if their record is clean. Jimenez opposes putting up a fence on the border between the U.S. and Mexico. “The fence [would make] more jobs, but it’s not going to keep anyone out,” he said. 

“I don’t think [putting more money into border control] is worth our time,” said Ed Carson. Carson is a 41-year-old reporter who works for Investor’s Business Daily in Los Angeles. Others, such as Rancho Palos Verdes Councilman Jim Knight, believe that border control is worth investing more in. Knight wants the U.S. to control who comes into the country. He supports immigration as long as it is done legally and with the proper documentation.

Knight has a clear-cut view on the issue and thinks that the undocumented immigrants should either be made legal or deported. Carson said, “It’s probably better for the country if they become legalized.” 

California’s 33rd Congressional District is region located on the coast of Southern California. It boasts beautiful beaches, houses with Spanish-style roofs, scenic parks, and Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles. It includes well-to-do communities such as Beverly Hills, Malibu, Bel Air, Santa Monica, and Rancho Palos Verdes. The district is demographically diverse, and this diversity is reflected in the opinions people living in the district have on issues in the area. 

Henry Waxman, Congressman of this district, said in an email response that he believes that immigrants make a “positive contribution to our society. Diversity strengthens our nation, and those who come to the United States seeking greater freedoms and opportunities deserve a chance to fulfill the American dream.”

Waxman goes a step further and said that immigrants should not only be legalized but also integrated into the American society. “I have long supported a reformed immigration system that would require all undocumented immigrants to register, go through background checks, pay taxes, and study English [to be legalized and] be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship. This approach is critical to integrating more people into the economy as workers, taxpayers, and consumers,” he said.

Congressman Waxman voted “no” on building a fence on the Mexican border. He is in favor of the legalization of undocumented workers. However, Waxman also believes that our borders should be made more secure so that trafficking and smuggling activity is reduced. 

Economic effects are also a concern for many. Jimenez says that undocumented workers improve the economy because they are willing to labor for low pay, sometimes content to receive less than minimum wage for their work. This makes products cheaper, so consumers would pay less. On the other end, Knight says that only legal labor should be allowed, even if it means a higher pay for legal workers unwilling to accept pay that is too low. This would cause prices of goods to increase, but that is a price that Knight would be willing to pay. “It’s just part of the economy,” he said.

Knight is among those who think that undocumented workers make the economy worse. “[They] tap into a lot of services we have here that people who pay taxes pay for.” 

Furthermore, he said that a few of his friends have gotten into auto accidents with undocumented immigrants. “They’re not in the system, and there’s nothing really that they can do in situations like that,” said Knight.

Waxman believes in the Congressional Budget Office’s prediction “that immigration reform will grow our economy and reduce the deficit by $700 billion over 20 years.” He says that immigrants are integral in improving the nation’s economy. “Immigrants [are] critical in reinvigorating our economy. It is more valuable to highlight their economic contributions… than to focus on the unproven threats to jobs of our legal residents,” Waxman said.

Waxman is also a cosponsor of the DREAM Act, legislation that would give a path to citizenship to undocumented immigrants that have been living in the States for the majority of their lives. “The DREAM Act is common sense. It gives young immigrants who grew up in the United States a chance to contribute to our country’s well-being,” says Waxman. “This is the only country they’ve known, yet they are denied access to higher education and other opportunities. Passing the DREAM Act is the right thing to do, both economically and morally.”

For now, the weight that the immigration reform bill carries lies on the shoulders of the House, and undocumented workers and legal residents alike are awaiting the outcome.

District Fact Box

Population: 637,122
White: 21.6%
Hispanic or Latino: 37.4%
Black of African American: 24.6%
Asian: 13.3%
American Indian/Alaska Native: 0.2%
Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 0.1%
Other: 0.5%
Mixed Race: 2.4%
Per capita income: $26,241
Democrat: 43.9%
Republican: 27.4%
Unknown Party Affiliation or None: 28.7%
Winner of 2012 election in district: Obama
Winner of 2012 election in country: Obama

Reach Guest contributor, Ashley Kim, here.



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