PICC Responds to Senate Immigration BillApr 17 2013 Press Center
Philadelphia, PA—Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition applauds the introduction today of a bipartisan immigration reform bill in the Senate. The introduction of this bill marks a historic step towards comprehensive immigration reform that will repair our country’s broken immigration system. It shows that bipartisan compromise is possible and that we can break through the gridlock in Congress. We are very optimistic that immigration reform legislation that includes a clear and direct path to citizenship for the undocumented will pass this year.
This compromise bill has many strengths. Above all, the bill establishes a pathway to citizenship for long-term immigrants currently in the country without status. It promises to modernize our immigration system, clear existing backlogs in the visa system, strengthen our economy, and protect workers.
However, we are concerned about many of the measures proposed in the bill. We view it as a first step in the legislative process, and look forward to working with members of Congress and our national coalition partners to improve on it.
- We want to make sure the pathway to citizenship is wide and inclusive. The proposed 13-year length of the path to citizenship is unwarranted and should be shortened substantially. We are also concerned about significant obstacles that would exclude many hardworking and contributing immigrant families.
- We want to ensure that the border security measures included in the bill (requiring DHS to develop a plan to ensure 100% surveillance along the border and a 90% effectiveness rate in apprehensions) do not provide an excuse to block the pathway to citizenship for the 11 million. We are concerned that these requirements – and others such as introducing a mandatory employment verification system, clearing the backlog of those waiting to enter the country and establishing a new airport and seaport entry-exit system – will later provide an excuse to block the path to citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants already living in this country.
- Our priority is keeping families together. The bill would clear backlogs in the family-based system, enabling spouses and minor children of green card holders to reunited with their family without delay. However, other aspects of the overhaul threaten the vital goal of preserving families. We want families, including adult children of all ages and siblings of US citizens, to be given a chance to reunite with loved ones. We want the definition of families to include LGBT families. We want to roll back harsh detention and deportation policies that separate families.
- Enforcement should be targeted and accountable, not zealous and harsh. Currently, the federal government spends more on immigration enforcement than on all other federal law enforcement priorities combined and deports 400,000 immigrants a year. The bill calls for a significant expansion of border enforcement. If we are to construct a workable and humane immigration system, we need to spend resources wisely and respect basic rights, ensuring accountability for government officials, meaningful review by judges, and safeguards that protect all American from government overreach.
Press Contact: Natasha Kelemen, Executive Director
Office: 215-832-3481; Cell: 267-230-7337; Email: email@example.com