National Immigration Law Center
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Immigration Reform Framework

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 28, 2012

CONTACT
Adela de la Torre, 213-674-2832 or delatorre@nilc.org


Citizenship: A Matter of When, Not If

Devil Is in Details for Bipartisan Immigration Reform Principles


WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of U.S. senators has released principles for creating a modern immigration system. Notably, the senators outlined the need for a “tough but fair” process to allow the 11 million aspiring citizens currently living without immigration status to apply for U.S. citizenship. The principles outline the four pillars the senators deem essential to any broad immigration reform measure. The pillars are the result of intense negotiations following the presidential election and represent the most serious bipartisan attempt to reform the immigration system since 2007. Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“In an era when bipartisan agreement about the most pressing national priorities is practically nonexistent, it is heartening that both sides of the aisle agree that we must create a process for aspiring Americans to apply for citizenship.

“This first, serious attempt at reforming an immigration process that has long failed to meet our economic and societal needs is welcomed by those of us who have witnessed the devastation to our communities caused by policies that only ramped up detention and deportation practices and failed to recognize those living here without lawful status for what they are: Americans at heart, if not on paper.

“We fully recognize that, as with all issues as complex as immigration, the devil is in the details. We are pleased to see that aspiring citizens would have access to temporary status almost immediately, so they’d be able to fulfill their promises to their families and our country. However, a broad road to citizenship for the eleven million immigrants applying for lawful status shouldn’t be made impassible by excessive roadblocks. The road to citizenship should not be contingent upon more militarization of the border and increased detention and deportation initiatives, which a recent report shows already receives more money than all other federal criminal law enforcement initiatives combined. The border security benchmarks, as outlined in 2007, have been more than met. Goalpost shifting on border security leads us to question whether a road to citizenship will ever actually materialize.

“The principles are silent as to whether aspiring citizens will have access to affordable health care, which, along with social insurance, we all need if we are to create a healthy, robust workforce and community. Finally, our laws should recognize that, while families may look different, all are bound by love, and this bond should be treated equally in the eyes of the law.

“These bipartisan principles provide an initial framework to build an immigration system worthy of our great nation. We look forward to working with these lawmakers and the White House to improve and strengthen these principles and resolve an issue whose political time has come.”

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