“For many undocumented people, citizenship is not a priority,” said Oscar A. Chacon, executive director of the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities, a network of immigrant organizations that includes many foreigners here without papers. “What they really care about is a solution that allows them to overcome their greatest vulnerabilities.”
Most groups working for immigrant rights vehemently oppose any legislation that would deny millions of people the opportunity for full equality.
“We either have a path to citizenship or a path to hell,” said María Rodriguez, executive director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition. “To codify a person who lives in this country but will never have an opportunity for citizenship creates a second class. It seems completely un-American.”
Advocates say the Senate’s path — which requires illegal immigrants to pay fines and back taxes, study English, pass criminal checks and wait in line behind foreigners who applied legally — is sufficiently long and arduous. This month there have been rallies and protests nationwide and a fast on the National Mall to pressure the House to vote on a bill with citizenship.
But among immigrants there is no consensus. In South Florida, there were anguished discussions over café con leche and empanadas among members of Dreamers’ Moms, a group of mothers of young immigrants who have joined the movement.At National Affairs, Peter Skerry proposes permanent noncitizen status, noting:
The available research certainly confirms that illegals do not necessarily seek citizenship. Ethnographic studies of undocumented Guatemalans in Houston and of illegal Irish in New York City reveal lingering indifference to any such permanent commitment to this nation. Most tellingly, by the end of 2009 — nearly a quarter-century after the IRCA amnesty program began — of the nearly 2.7 million individuals who became legal permanent residents under the program, barely 41% had gone on to exercise the option to naturalize. In other words, when offered the chance to become citizens, the overwhelming majority of the undocumented have settled for less.