FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 2, 2013
Gebe Martinez, [email protected],703-731-9505
Democrats Keep Momentum Going for Immigration Reform
WASHINGTON — Democrats from the House of Representatives today introduced a commonsense immigration reform bill that would create a road to citizenship for millions of aspiring Americans, including young immigrants known as DREAMers.
The bill is anchored by two bipartisan proposals: the measure approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this year that would overhaul the immigration system and include a path to citizenship for people who currently are undocumented, and a border security bill cosponsored by Republicans and Democrats and passed unanimously by the House Homeland Security Committee. Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center and the NILC Immigrant Justice Fund:
“In the wake of the federal government shutdown, it is refreshing to see this Democratic bill that’s based on measures that enjoy strong bipartisan support. We applaud the House Democrats for stepping forward to introduce a bill that would create an immigration system that respects family unity and allows those who have dedicated their lives to improving the economy and our communities to fully participate in society.
“However, this bill is far from perfect. We remain concerned — as we’ve been with the Senate’s committee bill and the version that passed on the floor — that the ten- to thirteen-year road to citizenship is too long, is extremely narrow, and will be especially difficult for low-income immigrants. For example, immigrants who qualify for registered provisional immigrant (RPI) status — the first step toward citizenship under the Senate bill — would be allowed to live and work in the U.S. but would be denied access to programs paid for by their tax dollars.
“In a week when we are celebrating an unprecedented level of access to health care coverage created by the new health insurance marketplaces, we believe consideration should be given to allowing the immigrants who benefit from legalization to have access to affordable health care — reducing program costs for everyone — instead of requiring them to wait at least a decade before participating in Obamacare.
“This adjustment in the legislative proposals would make economic and moral sense, and preserve the principle that fundamental governmental assistance programs — student aid, health care, and nutrition assistance — should allow all Americans, regardless of socioeconomic or immigration status, to reach the first rung of the ladder of opportunity.
“This bill is a reminder that, in addition to the economic issues facing our nation, immigration reform is also a top priority for the country. At a time when Congress’s approval ratings are at an all-time low, this bill provides an opportunity for both parties to show the American people that they can, in fact, legislate. We call on Republicans to come to the table and support this bill or proffer a counteroffer that will benefit our communities and our country. The energy, urgency, and political will are here. Americans — of all backgrounds — should not have to wait any longer for reforms that would make our immigration system conform to our values. The time is now.”
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