The statements and written testimony linked to here were submitted by NILC during 2013 to congressional committees holding hearings on issues related to immigration reform, as members of Congress considered why major reform is needed and what it should look like. Each statement is listed by the title of the hearing for which it was submitted. All links are to PDFs.
While we are encouraged that the subcommittee appears to support legislative solutions for undocumented youth, we remain troubled that this narrow road to citizenship will exclude the family members of DREAMers and other aspiring citizens. As an organization that is committed to supporting immigrant youth in achieving their full potential, we urge members of the Subcommittee to support inclusive and broad immigration reform.
The SAFE Act focuses on immigration enforcement without fixing the legal immigration system’s problems. It is widely recognized that now is the time for commonsense reform that creates a road to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants and addresses the country’s needs for an immigration system that strengthens families and bolsters the economy. An enforcement-only approach to immigration will not solve the current problems with our immigration system—problems that we can all agree upon—and this bill proposes only more of the same. Even more troubling, the SAFE Act, if enacted, would radically alter the nature of federal immigration enforcement by vesting enforcement decisions in the hands of state and local actors without federal oversight. NILC’s firsthand experience with laws and policies similar to the SAFE Act have convinced us that it will create an environment of rampant racial profiling and unlawful discrimination and breed distrust of law enforcement, which decreases public safety.
This bill introduction is merely the first act of what will undoubtedly be a long political play. NILC looks forward to working with members of this committee to finally bring our immigration laws in line with our values for fairness, equality, and justice. Current and aspiring citizens deserve nothing less, and our country can and must do better than the status quo.
Immigrants are harmed by our current immigration laws and policies that deny them basic due process protections. Immigrants fighting to stay with their families do not have a fair day in court and even individuals who receive a hearing in immigration court face severe challenges. Those who want to fight their deportation do not present evidence to a jury, do not have the right to a speedy trial and do not have access to court-appointed counsel and, as a result, the majority are unrepresented. Hundreds of thousands of individuals are subject to detention in jail-like conditions and deported away from their loved ones every year. It is time to create a just and transparent immigration adjudication system.
The majority of Americans support a pathway to citizenship and modernizing our immigration system. And there is strong support that aspiring citizens on a road to citizenship have access to affordable health care and nutrition assistance. The long-term consequences of excluding aspiring citizens and other immigrants from full participation in society denies not only them, but all of us, a more economically secure future and a stronger nation that lives up to and demonstrates its most cherished values.
As Congress considers reforming our nation's broken immigration policies, NILC remains strongly opposed to a federal requirement that all employers use E-Verify, because of the program's database error rates, lack of worker protections, lack of due process, insufficient privacy protections, and the significant amount of employer misuse of the program. Any mandatory electronic employment eligibility verification regime should, at a minimum, address these concerns, and must be coupled with a broad legalization program.