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Ahead of the President’s State of the Union Address and next week’s kick-off hearing on immigration reform in the Senate Judiciary Committee, Latino, Asian, and immigration leaders gathered on a press call today to clarify a few key aspects about the swirling immigration policy debate. On today’s call, advocates discussed some of the requirements they have for an immigration reform bill, defining what a clear, direct path to citizenship looks like, clarifying the facts about enforcement, and calling on Congress to act on an accelerated timeframe.
After the call, America’s Voice Education Fund (AVEF) released a document that provides additional background on specifics around three key elements of reform: citizenship, enforcement, and timing. More details can be found online here.
Referring to this new document, Frank Sharry, Executive Director at AVEF, said:
Our bottom line is simple: if you’re here to stay, work hard and pay taxes, you should be given the chance to earn citizenship and it shouldn’t take an decades or an entire lifetime to achieve it. That’s what the public supports, and it’s what Republicans need to start repairing their image with Latinos. Our country has come too far to repeat the mistakes of the past and legislate the establishment of a group of permanent second-class non-citizens in America.Angelica Salas, Executive Director Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) said:
A path to citizenship is as integral to immigration reform as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is to the American Dream. Immigrant families without papers who live in the U.S., attend school, buy houses, set up businesses, pay taxes, lend service to their community, represent a new wave of aspiring Americans who value the rights and responsibilities that come with citizenship and have made America great for centuries. By creating a path to permanent residency and citizenship now, our elected leaders will respond to a direct voter mandate, do the right thing, and set us on a forward-looking journey to a more diverse, creative, and compassionate nation.
Also on today’s call, Deepa Iyer, Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) and Chair of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) highlighted some of NCAPA’s principles for immigration reform:
Asian Americans support immediate immigration reform that strengthens families, provides protections for workers at all levels, and ensures a direct path to citizenship. But immigration reform must not come at the expense of heavy-handed enforcement, which breaks up families and targets minority and immigrant communities. We call upon lawmakers to align immigration policy with our country’s fundamental values of equal treatment and fairness.
According to Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director, National Immigration Law Center :
Congress must fix the system by not only providing a clear, direct, and unencumbered road to citizenship, but also holding abusive employers accountable for labor law violations. The ‘smart enforcement’ we need should strengthen worker protections while ensuring all employers play by the same rules.
Said Javier Valdez, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York:
The November elections have had real consequences. Millions of Latinos, Asians and immigrants came to the polls with one key principle in mind: we needed Congress to act on immigration for the sake of the country. We were happy to see the bipartisan Senate group come together two weeks ago, and ecstatic to see that our own Senator Schumer is leading the way, but we also know the time to act is now. It is vitally important that the Senate Judiciary Committee start marking up a bill early this March. The American people are behind a path to citizenship, and Congress needs to make their desire a reality by early this summer.