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Immigration Legislation

July 23, 1985

In his article Rodino described how the delicate balances of compromises in the 1984 immigration reform bill fell apart over the issue of federal funding for legalization. What follows are some other possible sources of legalization funds.

One possible source is Mexico. National pride set aside, Mexico might calculate that amnesty would mean higher earnings for those receiving it so that more might be sent back to families in Mexico.

This payment could also be made in a way that does not increase Mexico's current debt difficulties. For example, if Mexico's portion of legalization funding in a certain month were $25 million and the spot price of oil were $25 per barrel at that time, Mexico would owe us 1 million barrels of oil. This oil would be paid to us not now but in the next oil crisis when it was actually needed. In such a crisis the debt problems of an oil exporter such as Mexico should ease greatly so payment should not be a burden. (We could, of course, agree not to cut our current rate of imports of Mexican oil because of this oil owed to our reserve.)

Another possible source of legalization funds is that group among those who will get amnesty that now have well-paying jobs and thus are not on welfare. They would thus be "taking care of their own" since much of these funds would be for welfare.

The payment could be in the form of an income tax surcharge so that those who did better paid more. Such a purchase should also be politically popular since most believe that those who benefit from an illegal act (unauthorized entry to our country) should have to pay some kind of penalty.

A final possible way to break a funding impasse might be to grant amnesty in more than one stage, with those here longest getting it first. For there are great uncertainties in the amount of funding actually needed and it may well be that what we are willing to pay is indeed enough. An amnesty in stages could safely tell us this.

DAN WEINER

Fresno

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