The Rev. Robin Hoover told a Fresno State audience on March 30 that a more humane and economically integrated immigration policy lies in granting visas that would help immigrants move freely in the country.
Hoover spoke on the “Report from the Border” as part of the Chicano and Latin American Studies department’s Latin American Speaker Series.
Hoover, according to The Center for the Humanities, was the first non-Mexican recipient of the National Human Rights Award of Mexico. It was awarded by Mexico’s National Commission of Human Rights in Los Pinos – where the presidential office is located – as his friend and current political science professor Kenneth N. Hansen attended. Hoover visited Fresno State 11 years ago, when he spoke at an immigration forum.
Hoover holds a doctorate in political science with a focus on the subdiscipline of religion and politics theory. Through his education, he has developed what some social scientists call a well-formed alternative to the current U.S. immigration policy.
The alternative would significantly reduce deaths of migrants attempting to cross the border in some of its most dangerous regions. According to Hoover, the possibility of dying while attempting to migrate to the U.S. is five times more likely since the year 2000.
In his book, “Creating Humane Borders: a migration ethic,” he covers topics such as The Hoover Plan, his proposed immigration policy.
After the screening of Rory Kennedy’s HBO documentary “The Fence,” Hoover explained his proposed alternative immigration policy.
Hoover’s alternative was devised from years of what he calls “getting your feet wet.” Through interactions with migrants, mainly from Mexico and Central American countries, he has discovered that many of these individuals only wish to reside in the U.S. no more than three years. The time frame is set in correlation to the time it would take to make an acceptable amount of income and return to their country of origin.
The wall built through the signing of the 2006 Secure Fence Act has done the opposite of its intended purpose. It has prevented migrants from leaving, Hoover said. About 43 percent of the undocumented population in the U.S. overstay their visas, he added.
His proposed immigration policy has two approaches based on the situation of the individual – a policy for the undocumented population already in the U.S. and another for those whose sole intention is to work in the U.S. Both policies would issue visas, thus ending their undocumented status.
For the undocumented population already in the U.S., the policy proposal includes: interviewing the undocumented person; issuing a visa for two to 12 years based on need and U.S. quotas; requiring driver licenses, car and health insurance compliance; beginning the naturalization process, which may be completed in absentia; and allowing visa holders to travel, buy cars, homes and start businesses among other privileges.
For those who only want to work in the U.S., the policy proposal includes: U.S. Labor Department quotas for two-year visas just for Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador; having sending countries screen applicants; opening a $5,500 security account with the Internal Revenue Service; deducting 10 percent of gross wages and add to the account each pay period; the account accrues for two years; when the visa expires, the migrant must transfer funds electronically and go home.
Hoover, his colleagues and some government officials agree that the proposal can be a real alternative to the current immigration policy. The policy would possibly increase national security; decrease Mexican cartel revenues dramatically as a result of the cash being used for legalization and not toward human smuggling fees; and it would reduce the number of border crossing-related deaths, he said.
Although Hoover said he doesn’t believe his immigration policy proposal would be considered by the current administration, he believes that an immigration reform can happen within a span of three decades. Till then, his advice to students is to learn more about immigration and “learn it well.”