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Immigration Experts and Community Leaders Respond to Day 1 of Senate Judiciary Mark-Up

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As the Senate Judiciary Committee began to mark-up of S. 744: Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act on Thursday, immigration advocates and community leaders joined a telephone press conference to offer reactions to the initial votes and progress of immigration reform.

With the focus of today’s mark-up on border security, speakers on the call expressed relief that many of the worst amendments were rejected in bi-partisan votes by the committee and that the bill is moving forward, but raised concerns about the already excessive increases in border enforcement. Leaders vowed to keep the momentum building throughout the mark-up and Senate floor process to reach passage on a bill that will provide a roadmap to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans.

Julieta Garibay, a DREAMer from Texas and Legislative Affairs Associate for United We Dream, said:

DREAMers have made their demands clear– a path to citizenship for all 11 million.  Ted Cruz’s amendment banning all undocumented immigrants from ever becoming citizens is a radical rejection not only of our demands, but of sensible policy that the American people support and Latino voters are demanding.  Not only that, both my senators are pushing for even more border militarization that harms our communities already torn apart by record deportations and enforcement. Now the question is: does Sen. Cornyn want to follow in Sen. Cruz’s extremist footsteps?

Said Jacki Esposito of the New York Immigration Coalition, a member of the Northern Borders Coalition:

Today’s debate on immigration reform showed that momentum for legalization and a path to citizenship for the 11 million is unstoppable. Of the 21 amendments adopted today, all but one passed by a bipartisan vote – a clear sign that leaders from both ends of the political spectrum are committed to reform.

Said Laura W. Murphy, director of ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office:

The immigration reform bill remained largely intact and unscathed after the first day of markup,” The fact is that though the ‘Gang of Eight’ compromise has flaws, it represents movement in the right direction. We will continue to push for amendments that strengthen civil liberties and fight those that make the road to citizenship less fair, more difficult or more punitive.