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A roundup of statements in response to the long-awaited Gang of 8 immigration bill:
Gang of 8 Senators:
Our immigration system is broken and it is time for a national conversation about how to fix it. We believe common-sense immigration reform is vital in order to secure America’s borders, advance our economic growth, and provide fuller access to the American dream. Our bipartisan proposal is a starting point, and will be strengthened by good-faith input and ideas from across the ideological spectrum. We look forward to multiple Senate hearings on this bill, an open committee process with amendments, and a full and fair debate in the Senate.
Gang of 8 House members [Reps. Xavier Becerra (CA), John Carter (TX), Mario Diaz-Balart (FL), Luis Gutierrez (IL), Sam Johnson (TX), Raul Labrador (ID), Zoe Lofgren (CA), and John Yarmuth (KY)]
Americans want to see the nation’s broken immigration system fixed, and they know it will take bipartisanship to solve this problem in a sensible and rational way. This week, a bipartisan group of Senators stepped forward to introduce their proposal, and we applaud their effort. We are also working on a good faith, bipartisan effort in the House. We believe we will soon agree on a reasonable, common-sense plan to finally secure our borders and strengthen our economy, with a tough but fair process that respects the rule of law so immigrants can contribute to our country. While we have made substantial progress, we continue to work diligently towards a bill that keeps America strong, competitive and true to our values.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:
As a nation of immigrants, fixing our immigration system is not a Democratic or a Republican issue, it is an American issue. For me, it is a personal issue. I will do everything in my power to get this legislation across the finish line
America’s Voice Education Fund:
We will continue to work to improve this bill through the legislative process and ensure a wide and inclusive path to citizenship that will not be endangered by border triggers, will reunite all families – including LGBT families — will treat workers fairly, protect rights, and end the wasteful spending in our enforcement system. The American people support immigration reform. The President and Democrats want reform. The Republicans need reform. And our movement is determined to deliver workable and humane reform this year.
American Immigration Council:
In the coming days and weeks as the bill is analyzed and debated, there will be many who criticize both the policy remedies in the bill, as well as the sheer length of the legislation. It is important to keep in mind, however, that developing a comprehensive solution requires striking a delicate balance between a diverse cross section of stakeholders and impacted constituencies. Furthermore, the dysfunctional system that we have developed over the past two decades is in dire need of deep and precise reforms. While there will be fair criticisms of some of the bill’s contents it is important to keep the spirit of the debate productive and to ensure room for compromise.
National Council of La Raza:
We urge policymakers to follow the example of these senators and work as quickly as possible to pass a bill. We would note that immigration is a galvanizing issue for the nation’s Hispanics, whose vote last November generated a game-changing moment for this debate, giving us an opportunity to arrive at a solution. Our community is engaged and watching this debate closely. As the legislation progresses, we will work to ensure that legalization is real, enforcement is accountable and families and workers are protected. We have cleared a substantial hurdle today, but we cannot rest until we see legislation signed into law.
Jose Antonio Vargas:
It’s also welcome and necessary news to American citizens, businesses, and allies of immigrants like me. For every one of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country, there are friends and family who live with us, go to school with us, go to church with us, who work alongside us. The urgency for a fair, humane, common-sense immigration bill that works for all Americans cannot be overstated. Now is the time to create a new path
Fair Immigration Reform Movement:
We oppose all triggers. Our families’ well-being should not be conditioned on arbitrary border measures or any political or bureaucratic process which holds their loved ones hostage to regulations over which they have no control.
United We DREAM:
“We’re pushing for parents, like my mom, to be able to return to the U..S., where her family and her home is, and become a citizen,” said Evelyn Rivera, United We Dream National Coordinating Committee Southeast representative, whose mom was detained just weeks before Evelyn graduated from high school in Altamonte Springs, Florida. “I haven’t seen my mom for over six years and being able to travel back to Colombia to see her, and having her able to reunite with our family, would mean the world to me.”
Border Network for Human Rights:
However, we cannot ignore provisions in the bill that would further entrench the problem of unaccountable enforcement at the border. Sending the National Guard to the border is further entrenches the problem of militarization in border communities. Plans to spend an additional $3 billion — on top of the $11 billion spend on border enforcement in 2012 — are misguided and an irresponsible use of resources. Additionally, the senators’ plan to give DHS a new metric — 90% apprehension rate at the border — will also lead to further expansion of the massive militarization of the border.
National Immigration Law Council:
As with all bipartisan legislation, this bill contains many compromises, some of which may have been made in hopes of strengthening the chances that this legislation would ultimately become law. Unfortunately, many of these compromises threaten the health and stability of immigrants and their U.S. citizen family members by excluding them from our most important health care and social insurance programs or by requiring U.S. employers to use an electronic employment eligibility verification system that is much more likely to hurt authorized immigrant workers than native-born workers. We should not sacrifice sound public policy at the altar of political expedience.
After many years of marching, families who have spoken up, students who would not give up their dreams, leaders who have risked their political careers to do the right thing, and people using their political power by voting, we at last have an immigration bill we can work with. While we believe this proposal is a strong first step, now is time for the American people to actively engage with Congress to ensure the bill is the right one for our families and for America. The political, economic, and moral imperative for legalization has never been clearer and we commend Congress for undertaking the task and moving forward with a bill that will modernize our nation’s immigration laws, honor our history and reflect our values.
National Immigrant Justice Center:
Congress has an historic opportunity to pass an immigration law that relieves the severe pressure our justice system and communities have felt in recent years,” said NIJC Executive Director Mary Meg McCarthy. “As an advocacy organization that has provided legal counsel to low-income immigrants for nearly 30 years, NIJC is committed to fighting for additional reforms that promote family unity and protect the due process and human rights of all immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.”
Small Business Majority:
The legislation includes a pathway to citizenship, which small business owners strongly support. Our polling found small businesses believe creating a path to earned citizenship is the most appropriate solution for handling our country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants. Three-quarters believe we would be better off if people who are in the country illegally become legal taxpayers and can work toward citizenship in the future. A 62 percent majority agrees undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S. should be allowed to stay, and 65 percent think they should not only be allowed to stay here, but to work toward citizenship over time.
Asian-Pacific American Labor Alliance:
As we begin the review process, we are relieved that the DREAM and POWER acts are included in this bill. With these key provisions, DREAMers will have an expedited path to citizenship and temporary workers who experience and report abuse are ensured protection from employer retaliation. However, we reserve serious concerns including the restriction of family reunification by eliminating the sibling category and implementing an age cap on adult married children. Currently, there are an estimated 2 million of Asian Pacific Americans waiting for as long as 20 years on family backlogs. We must remind ourselves that this is a compromise and we are far from passage. In the coming weeks, we will provide an in-depth analysis on the potential impact on working families and the Asian Pacific American community.
National Day Laborer Organizing Network:
President Obama should seize the opportunity presented today by immediately suspending deportations, at a bare minimum for all those who would be included in the bill’s legalization provisions. While it is necessary to study the bill before passing judgment on its contents, one thing remains clear: the President’s own deportation quota policy is the biggest roadblock on the path to citizenship. He must take steps immediately to end the removal and criminalization of would-be citizens.
Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights:
The bill is a good starting point, but much work needs to be done to ensure that immigration reform is as inclusive of the 11 million undocumented immigrants as possible. The cutoff date for eligibility and other restrictions will leave hundreds of thousands families out of the process and create all the same moral and practical problems with which we began. The 13-year length of the citizenship path is unduly long and should be substantially shortened. And we are concerned that the requirements for permanent residence and citizenship may prove excessive for many immigrants.
National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights:
“Immigrant women are key contributors to the success of the U.S. They contribute to the economy, keep their families strong and invest in their children’s education. However, heavy-handed enforcement policies are violating their rights and tearing their families apart in inhumane, costly and counterproductive ways,” notes Michelle Brané, Director of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program with the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC), a member of NCIWR Steering Committee. Brané continues, “The introduction of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act is an important step forward in affording immigrant women the opportunity to become full citizens of the United States and to build a better future for their families and their communities.”
MoveOn’s 8 million members are mobilizing in every legislative district across the country to encourage their senators to strengthen this bill, and will be on guard against attempts by the anti-immigrant fringe of the Republican Party to weaken or delay immigration reform any longer.
National Korean American Service & Education Consortium:
We are encouraged that the bill includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, however, are deeply concerned and disappointed by other aspects including restrictions on American citizens to reunite with their loved ones, exclusions of some immigrants to get on the path to citizenship and arduous hurdles for undocumented immigrants in obtaining legal permanent residency and citizenship. NAKASEC and affiliates will provide a more detailed analysis of the bill in the coming days and with input from the community we will continue to organize to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation that lifts up family values and strengthens the economy.
Mi Familia Vota:
The American people want their elected officials to solve problems and not play partisan politics. Both parties have agreed that commonsense reform is absolutely necessary in a country where according to the decennial census; two thirds of the states have over five percent foreign born population. The Senate bipartisan group has served up a bill that is an excellent starting point. We pledge to do everything we can to ensure reform is passed.
Center for American Progress Action Fund:
The historic immigration-reform legislation introduced today represents a big step forward for our country. The proposed Senate bill is a watershed moment, with both parties coming together to craft a thoughtful, pragmatic solution to a big challenge that will directly impact and improve the path our nation is on for decades to come. The legislation announced today gives the 11 million undocumented immigrants in America a clear shot at the American Dream and substantially revamps our legal-immigration system. The proposed path to citizenship, while long, is a major improvement and will be economically beneficial, adding an average of 121,000 jobs annually and a cumulative $832 billion to our gross domestic product in the first decade after the bill’s enactment. The bill is not perfect, but it is significant progress. I am hopeful that Congress will act decisively on the bill and ultimately reflect the will of the majority of Americans by reforming our immigration laws.
The bill introduced today is another step toward addressing a real crisis. The United States urgently needs a roadmap to citizenship for more than 11 million aspiring Americans. And while Washington, D.C., is full of legislative unveilings that dissolve into recriminations and unsolved problems, this time actually is different. Our cause is unstoppable. There will be a roadmap to citizenship in 2013.
United Farm Workers:
The comprehensive immigration reform proposal — including its agricultural provisions negotiated by the United Farm Workers and major grower associations — fulfills the urgent need for an earned legalization program that enables undocumented farm workers who are the backbone of the nation’s agricultural industry to swiftly obtain legal immigration status. It will also stabilize the farm labor workforce through incentives for immigrants to continue working in U.S. agriculture.
We Belong Together:
While we applaud the Gang of Eight for proposing to reunite family members caught in the backlog who have been separated for decades, we urge the Senate to keep family at the heart of our immigration system even after that backlog is cleared. We need to ensure women are treated humanely and fairly, and can bring all of their many contributions to strengthen our culture, economy, and communities in America. Reform is not common sense until it includes women and meets the needs of their families.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights:
Among other things, we are encouraged that the bill would eventually put undocumented immigrants on the road to citizenship, addresses the use of racial profiling, and promotes alternatives to cruel and expensive detention policies. Other aspects of the bill, however, are more troubling. We know that any major legislative effort involves a lot of compromise, and we will work with Congress in the coming months to make sure it strikes the right balance.
We commend the Senate bipartisan committee and are encouraged by the bill released today – it offers real hope for millions of aspiring citizens tired of living in fear and is a significant step towards fixing our broken system once and for all,” Figueroa said. “We recognize that this bill is result of hard work and compromise, designed to accommodate various needs and at times competing concerns. Our foremost commitment is to pass legislation this year that offers a reasonable path to citizenship for the 11 million aspiring citizens waiting in the shadows, creates a plan for future flow with worker protections, reunites families who have been torn apart for far too long, and heals families already here by ending deportation proceedings.
Conservative economists, taking into account both the costs and benefits of reform, predict trillions of dollars in economic growth. The dynamic effects of immigration reform are very important: This bill will increase the size of our American workforce, as well as its productivity. Much needed highly skilled talent will start businesses and create jobs in the United States, rather than receiving an American degree and returning home to compete with us. And temporary and seasonal workers will fill jobs that remain vacant, strengthening and enlarging the American workforce