Richardson opposes Congress’s draft on “immigration reform”
By BARRY MASSEY
Associated Press Writer
SANTA FE, May 25, 2007 (AP): New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, the only Latino in the Democratic presidential race, said Friday he opposes new immigration legislation in U.S. Congress unless significant changes are made.
The governor said earlier this week that he had misgivings about certain provisions in the bill, but told The Associated Press that he would vote for it if he were in Congress and would try to improve it.
Richardson said he changed his mind after reading the entire legislation, which includes double-layered walls at 25 percent of the México border and prioritizes merit over reuniting families.
Latino Democratic candidate upset with wall, family separation provisions
“I read that they added more funding for the fence. I am against the fence. I’ve always been against it. I didn’t realize the fence construction was in there,” Richardson said at a news conference. “It’s a terrible symbol.”
The Senate bill provided for 370 miles (595 kilometers) of fencing along the U.S. border with México. The Canadian border, which is twice its length, is ignored.
Richardson said he backed another border security provision in the bill that would increase the number of Border Patrol agents.
Richardson said he also opposed the bill because it “separates families.”
“In other words, it gives priority to job skills rather than family unification. Historically, our immigration policies have emphasized family unification and this bill doesn't,'' he said.
The legislation would give a priority to allocating some work visas to future immigrants with job skills or educational backgrounds that are in demand—a shift away from a traditional consideration of whether an immigrant has family living in the United States.
Richardson said immigrants who came temporarily to the U.S. under a proposed guestworker program would not have adequate labor protections, and he objected that there was no guarantee they could eventually gain citizenship.
The governor backs a core provision of the legislation that provides a path to citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants who already live in the country.