2007_05_immirally2.jpgThe new legislation reform bill that no one is very happy with has raised many questions about its effect on the city. Mayor Bloomberg said that the bill is a good first step, but called the provision where immigrants would go back to their native country "a joke," saying, "Nobody’s going to go home for a year and come back. Nobody could ever enforce that. Nobody in their right mind would ever try to do it." Today, the NY Times has an article on how immigration has shaped the city.

The proposed bill would stop the practice of family members sponsoring relatives to come to the U.S. and would essentially filter immigrants with a scoring system - higher levels of English fluency and education would give people more points than family ties. The article, though, speaks to immigrants who entered the U.S. with family sponsorship and now thrive. Two were business owners on the Lower East Side: Jamal Hussain, owner of a deli on Delancey Street, has "opened his deli with loans from relatives four years ago" and has since "repaid the loans, married, had a baby, and bought a house in the Bronx." Steven Lai, whose mother sponsored him, came arrived in New York at 23, learned English at night school, and opened up a locksmith business on Grand Street 18 years ago. As the Times' Nina Berstein writes, "Under the proposed point system, Mr. Lai would have been locked out."

And some people who study immigration agree:

“The way that New York has come back is one of the great American success stories of the last 40 years, and immigrants are absolutely central to it,” Professor [Gary] Gerstle [historian of immigration who teaches at Vanderbilt] said. “Mom and pop stores in New York have been a very dynamic force in the making of American society, and I would not want to see that possibility foreclosed.”

“If it was just geared to skilled labor, New York would be in trouble,” said David Reimers, an emeritus immigration historian at N.Y.U. “Like all big cities, it depends on unskilled labor.” If family members are left out, he added, “they’re going to come in by hook or crook.”

There are some questions about whether the point system who also give an edge to certain ethnic groups that are more educated and well-to-do. But a Yale professor, Peter Schuck, who supports the point system, said,"The country can’t simply throw up its hands and say, ‘We’ve done it this way for the past few generations, so we just should go on doing it.'"

Interestingly, there's another Times related about immigration, but about an immigration scam. Ralph Cucciniello was arrested after telling hundreds of Irish immigrants that he could file paperwork to make them legal citizens. Cucciniello said he worked for the Yale Immigration Law Clinic and ask for $5,000 checks; then it turned out there was no Yale Immigration Law Clinic and somehow Cucciniello managed to use his position as an occasional volunteer and assistant to secure a Yale email address and meeting space at the Yale Law School Library. He was charged in NYC, because many of the victims live here.