New Immigration Bill Includes Support for Families and Workers, Yet Would Continue Key Failures of Current System

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Quaker Group: Fair Path to Citizenship Must Reflect More Humane Principles 

Newark, NJ (April 17, 2013) -  The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) finds the immigration bill  introduced today a modest start on reform, due to provisions that address  family unification and workers' rights and create a narrow path to  citizenship for some immigrants. But much of the bill reproduces many of  the current failed policies - making the overall bill a far cry from the  just and humane reforms that immigrant communities, faith, labor and  advocacy groups have been calling for.

"The Senate bill makes  meaningful improvements for immigrants with temporary protected status,  undocumented youth, and agricultural workers by providing a fast track to  legal permanent residency. However, it would not end the current cruel,  costly and inefficient system of detention and deportat ion, or the  militarization of the border that has devastated communities on both sides  of the border," said Amy Gottlieb of the AFSC Immigrant Rights Program in  Newark.

The bill not only doubles down on some failed policies. It  also elevates them to the status of mandatory measurable triggers,  including universal E-Verify, a 90 percent border 'security' metric, and a  new entry-exit port system. It would waste billions on drones, costly  high-tech gadgetry, additional fencing, and personnel.

One part of  the bill does offer greater accountability and oversight of border  enforcement, a long-standing demand by immigrant communities and their allies, including AFSC. It would establish a task force of border community stakeholders to evaluate and make recommendations regarding immigration policies along the border. Since 2010, the Border Patrol has  claimed the lives of 20 unarmed civilians, and no official has been held  accountable for these deaths. Federal agents seemingly operate with  impunity, systematically violating the human rights and civil liberties of border residents.

The bill also includes the right of due process  and worker protections under the mandatory E-Verify provision. However,  E-Verify and other employment verification programs remain highly flawed,  problematic and costly.

"We are gratified to see that the bill does  begin an important conversation about future flows of workers to the U.S.,  by identifying significant labor and wage standard protections and  opportunities to apply for permanent status and supporting family unity,"  said Amy.

The bill strives to keep families together by  restructuring a fundamentally flawed system with long waiting periods into  one that provides new opportunities for people to migrate  lawfully.

Still, because of limitations in the bill, there may be  many who continue to live in the shadows, subject to the cruelties of a  broken system including exploitation and abuse by unscrupulous  employers.

The AFSC implores Congress to adopt compassionate and  effective immigration reforms that are grounded in the following  principles:

  • Develop humane economic policies to reduce forced  migration.
  • Protect the labor rights of all workers.
  •  Develop a quick path to legal permanent residency and a clear path to citizenship.
  • Respect the civil and human rights of  immigrants.
  • Demilitarize the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • Make family reunification a top priority.
  • Ensure that immigrants and  refugees have access to services.

AFSC has created A New Path, which lays out policy priorities for humane immigration reform that  protects the human rights of all people. These principles are derived from  nine decades of work with immigrant communities, whose voices must be  heard as we seek meaningful and humane policies.

For more on AFSC's  immigrant rights work, visit http://afsc.org/project/immigrant-rights

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The American Friends  Service Committee is a Quaker organization that includes people of various  faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian  service. Its work is based on the belief in the worth of every person and  faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.

Chia-Chia Wang

Immigrant Rights Program

American Friends Service Committee

89 Market Street,  6th Floor

Newark, NJ 07102

Main Line:  973.643.1924

Direct Line: 973.854.0402

Fax:  973.643.8924

Email: _ccwang@afsc.org_ (mailto:ccwang@afsc.org)

 

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