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Senate Antics Underscore Need for a Real Debate On Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Today, the Senate is considering the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill and predictably, Republican Senators who blocked comprehensive immigration reform in the past are trying to weigh the bill down with a litany of piecemeal, deportation-only measures. Amendments by Senators Sessions, DeMint, Grassley, and Kyl offer the false promise of control and order, when they would actually cause chaos in U.S. workplaces and take us further from an immigration system that works for America. So far, a Sessions amendment expanding employment eligibility verification and a DeMint amendment requiring further construction of the border fence have passed, with some bipartisan support.
“I’m disappointed to see that it’s politics as usual for Senators Sessions and his crew when it comes to the issue of immigration reform,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice. “Instead of coming to the table to work on practical solutions to the nation’s broken immigration system, these politicians are hijacking the appropriations process to try to appear tough on immigration. But poll after poll has shown that the American people want policymakers to solve illegal immigration with comprehensive reform, not piecemeal measures and empty promises.”
While the Senate was debating (and in some cases approving) these measures, the Administration was also sending mixed messages on the issue of effective immigration enforcement. On the one hand, the Department of Homeland Security took a huge step forward by deciding to rescind the Bush era “no match” letter rule that would have forced hundreds of Americans to prove yet again that they are legally authorized to work. On the other, the Administration recommitted to expanding the flawed work authorization verification program known as E-Verify.
Meanwhile, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Independent Task Force on Immigration issued a groundbreaking report that offers a serious way forward on the issue. In recommending a robust overhaul of immigration enforcement and visa programs, as well as a program that requires undocumented immigrants to legalize their status, the task force highlights the security imperatives behind comprehensive reform and why it is in the national interest. In a prescient comment on today’s antics in the Senate, the task force’s report states: “No enforcement effort will succeed properly unless the legal channels for coming to the United States can be made to work better.”
“The need for comprehensive immigration reform could not be clearer,” continued Sharry. “The American people want the immigration system fixed, bi-partisan commissions are recommending that it be fixed, and our economic recovery demands that we get all workers and all employers onto the tax rolls through comprehensive immigration reform. The House, Senate, and Administration must move forward on common sense immigration reform this year as promised, because America needs a real solution to this important issue, not more fiery floor speeches,” said Sharry.