Early this morning, the Senate Gang of 8 introduced its highly anticipated immigration bill. On a press call today, a diverse group of national leaders from the Alliance for Citizenship (A4C) reacted to the new bill and shared their thoughts on what this means for the legislative debate ahead.
Today’s bill introduction follows a week of action in Washington, DC and across the country. Last Wednesday, tens of thousands of supporters gathered on the west lawn of the Capitol to rally for immigration reform at the “Rally for Citizenship.” Now, with the energy and enthusiasm behind reform growing stronger every day, A4C and its partners are more optimistic than ever that a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million will remain at the heart of the legislation.
Said Sue Chinn, Campaign Manager of A4C, “The Senate’s Gang of 8 has produced a bipartisan bill that represents a major step forward towards fixing our broken immigration system once and for all. We applaud their efforts and we are optimistic that we are closer than ever to making history. This is the year. Now is the time.”
Clarissa Martinez De Castro, Director, Immigration and National Campaigns, National Council of La Raza (NCLR), said, “We are at the eve of a historic moment—while not perfect, this is a monumental step forward to deliver a 21st-century immigration policy that serves our nation’s best interests and works for all Americans, including families, workers and businesses, as well as for aspiring Americans, having at its core a real roadmap to legalization and citizenship. As the process unfolds, the clearest line of demarcation will be between those who want to preserve failed policies that serve no one, and those who are placing the national interest above politics and rhetoric in a real effort to deliver a solution.”
“We applaud the bi-partisan Senate leadership for putting forth a proposal that is a substantial step in the right direction toward fixing our broken immigration system and a solid starting point for addressing the current backlogs,” said Mee Moua, president and executive director of Asian American Justice Center (AAJC). “Nevertheless, we are deeply concerned about the elimination of visa categories pertaining to siblings and married adult children over the age of 30. AAJC looks forward to working with the Senate to ensure all families are protected as the bill goes through the legislative process.”
Labor groups played a significant role in shaping the final reform bill. Just a few weeks ago, the AFL-CIO negotiated a historic agreement with the Chamber of Commerce on the terms of a new worker program. Today, Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, shared his thoughts on today’s bill intro: “Our cause – citizenship — is righteous. Our coalition? Unstoppable. Together, we will achieve a roadmap to citizenship in 2013 – and we will do so in a way that promotes good jobs and protects all workers, regardless of their status.”
Added Eliseo Medina, Secretary Treasurer of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), “While this legislation is not entirely perfect—a result of realistic compromise—the senators have rested bricks that build a foundation of opportunity for aspiring Americans to earn citizenship. Bringing our community of aspiring Americans to the fore of our democracy is the essence of who we are as nation committed to freedom and the pursuit of happiness.”
Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director, National Immigration Law Center (NILC) said, “Today should prove, to anyone who had lingering doubts, that the political muscle honed by the immigrant, Latino, and Asian American community is powerful. Like all compromises, this bill has flaws, which we will work to remedy. However, this bill provides the strong blueprint we need to finally create the immigration system our country’s citizens – and aspiring citizens – deserve and need.”
Said Angelica Salas, Executive Director Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), “After years of mobilizations, sacrifice, holding on to what we believe is right, we now have a piece of legislation we can work with. The Senate’s proposal is a strong and serious step forward and the community will keep track of our elected leaders’ position on this crucial bill. We will work actively with Congress to ensure the long road ahead to gain citizenship is not filled with mines. It is important to get millions on a path to citizenship but it is absolutely essential that we keep them on the path and see them through the finish line, not decades later, but soon. Our community above all deserves respect and dignity, less stick, more carrot.”