News / USA

US Immigration Politics a Reality in Border Community

US Immigration Politics a Reality in Border Communityi
March 14, 2013 3:15 PM
President Barack Obama and leaders in the Senate hope to reform the U.S. immigration system to resolve the problem of more than 11 million people who are living in the United States illegally. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from San Diego, California, the issue hits close to home in one border region, where legal and undocumented residents live and work together.
President Barack Obama and leaders in the Senate hope to reform the U.S. immigration system to resolve the problem of more than 11 million people who are living in the United States illegally. The issue hits close to home in San Diego, California, near the border with Mexico, where legal and undocumented residents live and work together.

One such resident, Rosa Maria Mendoza, is self-deporting. She has lived in the United States for 12 years but is returning to Mexico.  She is leaving behind a 15-year-old son and 18-year-old daughter, who want to stay in California with their grandmother.  Mendoza earns barely enough in California to support her family, but is a trained paralegal worker in Mexico.  

Speaking in Spanish, Mendoza said her situation is complicated and she doesn't know how they [her children] will manage. But they love his country, she said, and she respects their wishes.

San Diego, California, Mexico borderSan Diego, California, Mexico border
San Diego, California, Mexico border
San Diego, California, Mexico border
San Diego is a beautiful seaside city, a short drive from the U.S.-Mexico border, with its massive fence and extensive security.  The security is needed, says former Republican congressman Duncan Hunter.

“What it is, is a border security program that says several things. Number one, if you want to come into America, knock on the front door," Hunter said.

Millions have not done that.  Economic refugees from Latin America often lack the job skills to get a legal visa. But many came illegally as children with their parents.

At the University of San Diego, law student Rosibel Mancillas Lopez meets with a friend, Wendy Romero.  Wendy is one of 1.7 million young people covered by the program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which the Obama administration announced last June. She is now safe from deportation.  So is San Diego State University nursing student Maria Estrada.

“In many ways, it changed the psyche and the thinking of a lot of undocumented youth, and gave us a lot of hope that we hadn't had for a long time,” Estrada said.

The workers who pick the produce on California farms are thought to be mostly undocumented and using false papers, said Eric Larson of the San Diego Farm Bureau.

“Even though they may not be here legally documented, we'd like to see as many of them stay as possible," Larson said. "They're very skilled, they’re trained."

Farmers also hope to see an effective program put in place to bring extra workers to the country at harvest time. Each year, hundreds of migrants die crossing the border through the desert.  Laura and John Hunter, the brother of the former congressman, head a group called Water Station that leaves water in the desert for the migrants. Laura, who was born in Mexico, said the undocumented need to come out of the shadows.

“To be able to have the opportunities to become citizens, to be able to provide for their families.”

Members of a Unitarian church near a detention center in Irvine, California pay weekly visits to those awaiting deportation. Visitor Jan Meslin said the immigration system separates families.

“And especially, a lot of the detainees here tell us about their children, who they miss so much."

The immigration system is overwhelmed, said Estela De Los Rios of the Center for Social Advocacy.  Legal remedies for those fighting deportation can take several years, and those waiting to immigrate legally can wait even longer.

“There's people that I've known that have applied 15 years ago, and their name is just coming up," she said.

Hunter says politicians must find a solution.

“We need the labor. The guys in Mexico and other places do need the work, and so there should be some way to legally make both sides happy.”

Others say the rights of those waiting in line to immigrate legally should also be respected, and that the border needs to be secure.

But Congress is divided, and leaders in both parties say that finding a solution will not be easy.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: dwight from: dc
March 14, 2013 7:57 PM
this article is nonsense. what a ridiculous liberal slant!
this is why americans are getting fed up with "mainstream media".
and lastly, we don't ow criminal invaders anything. my parents came here the right way-legally.

by: Dave Francis
March 14, 2013 4:26 PM
We must be losing our minds, if we cannot see through the lies about the cost of a federal ID card. Expensive as it might be, it will be able to eliminate numerous problems we have to deal with today? The biometric document should be issued to every citizen and legal resident, not just workers? Blame for withholding of issuing a National ID card falls without any form of contradiction on both political parties. Democrats and their Liberal subsidiaries, the Republicans have not only been absent from protecting Americans from the illegal alien invasion, but the pandering to majority ethnic groups, including the outrageous cost of supporting them. I trust the Heritage Foundation for reporting after analysis that this next amnesty, if enacted will cost taxpayers $2.6 Trillion dollars to legitimately process and settle them. This dollar figure should not be confused with the $113 million dollars spent annually, which is rising as President Obama’ is spreading illegal cheer in the way of food stamps for all. The unsuspecting American taxpayers as with the signer, the late Ronald Reagan never realized of the undermining of funding and enforcement for the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). Republican campaign contributors for corporate welfare had their say and enforcement mainly became a useless word in the Federal Register. However that didn’t mean the GOP was entirely to blame, as assuredly so the Democrats assisted in the skillful fraud. Not even processing of the 3.6 million Guest Workers in the agriculture industry or others, who then flew the coop once they gained citizenship to the cities. The whole 1986 can be classed as really inoperable and it caused millions more were encouraged by the (IRCA) act, suddenly rushing to the poorly equipped borders, or overstaying there visitor, tourist or educational visas forever.

The tangible miasma of an amnesty or Comprehensive Immigration Reform floating around is the Border Patrol is already seeing an upsurge in numbers crossing the border. It was obvious this was going to happen, as illegal aliens are testing the chance of slipping past the border or arriving here as an inconspicuous visitor, who cannot be tracked once here. If the illegal population is truly 11 million, which the most prudent American doubt, that number will shortly fly through the roof as the U.S. government will not be able to contain the charge? Currently—what do we have as worthwhile identification—a Social Security number, a driver’s license or state issued ID card. Hundreds of data bases of legal immigrants are not centralized. Because of this vital situation we have this unfortunate dilemma today, with a growing ration of stolen personal information. Illegal aliens using this form of identification, plus the SSN of deceased persons and even the number of infants and children, no to forget our troops overseas ID. I think for a matter of security and an individual’s personal information, we need a biometric card, which will not only identify the recipient as an authorized job seeker, but for many other entitlements.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs