Today the Senate debates a troubling new proposal on immigration reform. This proposal, constructed by compromises between several key Senators and Bush administration officials, falls short of what we need to fix the nation's broken, out-of-date immigration system.
The U.S. needs substantive reform that includes a path to permanent residency for undocumented immigrants, family reunification, demilitarization of the U.S.-Mexico border, and a halt to worksite raids and detention.
While it is good that the proposal includes a path to legal residency and eventual citizenship, even that path is filled with hurdles.
Email your senators today asking them to improve the proposed legislation and to support fair, humane immigration reform by clicking here. For talking points click here.
Sending an email or calling shows your senators that many people in this country want to protect the rights and dignity of immigrants. To learn more about the legislation and improvements that are needed click here.
The proposed legislation will tear apart families and separate people from their loved ones. It falls short of what we need to fix the nation's broken, out-of-date immigration system. I ask you to support several changes to the legislation.
I support a path to legal residency and eventual citizenship for the many workers and families who have built a life in this country. The proposed legislation includes unreasonable provisions, including lengthy waiting periods, fines, a new "merit"-based system, and other punitive hurdles. These new barriers mean that millions of immigrants would need to wait an inordinate amount of time, to permanent residents and pay the equivalent of up to six months wages. I urge you to support fair and realistic amendments to remove these hurdles.
Family unity is vital to our nation and the foundation for effective integration. To keep families together, please co-sponsor amendments that protect family visa applicants and advocate for the elimination of the May 1, 2005 application cut-off date in the proposal; it would annul many family visa applications and create a new bureaucratic problem for the nation's immigration system.
I am deeply concerned about the temporary worker proposal. In it, these workers would be left without a direct path to permanent residency and vulnerable to unethical employers, as shown by the experience of the Bracero program between the U.S. and Mexican government between 1942 and 1964. Even now, former bracero workers fight for unpaid wages and recount severe mistreatment and exploitation while they were temporary workers. Support amendments to better protect the rights of all workers in this country including immigrant workers.
More troubling, the legalization program and the temporary worker programs would not start until the government has hired 18,000 additional Border Patrol agents and built 370 miles of fencing along the border with Mexico. U.S. taxpayers have already spent more than $30 billion to fund more fences, walls, and border agents in the past 12 years and instead of stemming the flow of immigrants, we've created a humanitarian crisis at the border. Support a new direction that is more effective and humane by working to demilitarize the border region.
The bill also requires funding for 27,500 detention beds per day, annually. The proposal is unclear whether this is in addition to the already overbroad use of detention, or a reaffirmation of the misguided commitment to lock up undocumented immigrants. Either way, detentions, often coupled with home and worksite raids and deportation, creates so much pain for families that we must find a more humane and just way to handle alleged violations of immigration laws.
Together, we can create a rational and fair system that fits the best of this country's traditions. I look forward to your principled and visionary leadership.