It’s been an exciting week as President Obama and a bipartisan group of key senators have started the real work of getting comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) passed this year. On Monday, the “Gang of Eight” released a framework for the new legislation. On Tuesday, the President gave a speech outlining his vision for CIR. You can watch his speech here:
The North Carolina Council of Churches has long supported the cause of humane CIR. We are excited by these recent developments and hopeful about the future of CIR. At the same time, we know the sober reality that millions of families hang in the balance. As the North Carolina Justice Center stated this week:
We applaud the Senators for recognizing the need for strong worker protections in guestworker programs, for due process protections, and for addressing the important problem of racial profiling in immigration enforcement. However, the framework falls short in its overall tone of “enforcement-before-benefits.” When will members of Congress ever stop playing this game of more and more enforcement before a single immigration benefit can be realized?
We are deeply troubled by the fact that the United States currently spends more on immigration enforcement than it does on all other federal law enforcement combined-FBI, DEA, Secret Service, US Marshalls, and ATF.
Unless the legislation that is ultimately passed provides a clear and workable path for both skilled and unskilled workers to enter the United States in future years, economic realities will continue to draw many immigrants to the U.S. without authorization, no matter how much we spend on enforcement. A clear, fair and workable path to legal status will be far more effective in reducing the number of unauthorized immigrants than billions spent on punitive enforcement measures.
Will you join us in demanding humane CIR? Please call Senator Hagan and Senator Burr and ask them to support humane CIR that features a roadmap to citizenship for the 11 million aspiring Americans living here without papers.
-Chris Liu-Beers, Program Associate