Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 14013030 (posted Jan. 30, 2014)"
WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the House of Representatives' Republican leadership released a set of standards related to immigration reform. AILA President Doug Stump responded:
"The release of these standards is a much needed sign of movement. While the principles articulated are vague, and amenable to any number of meanings, they show some promise of a willingness to look at our existing system and work across the aisle to find ways to fix it. We are encouraged that House Republicans see a need to bring those living undocumented in the U.S. out of the shadows, and that they wish to reform the legal immigration system, the dysfunction of which has been the primary factor in illegal immigration.
"We look forward to working with the House to ensure that the result of these efforts is something that benefits America. Our approach must recognize economic and human realities. This is not a matter of trading one set of humans for another: economic needs must be met, but the family values that serve as the core of our national values must also be retained.
"The most significant advance is the recognition in these standards that our policy cannot be one of mass deportations-that those people here who are not dangers to the community should have the opportunity to clean up their statuses and live within the mainstream of our society. It is important that this be achieved in a way that does not create the second-tier underclass that has plagued other countries whose laws have prevented full integration of people otherwise living and working legally in their midst. We can avoid that here by ensuring that our laws do not pose a barrier to eventual naturalization, either overtly or by benign neglect, for anyone participating in legalization.
"For those who seek to enter the U.S. now and in the future, as well as those seeking to legalize, our legal immigration system must be fixed. These standards acknowledge that need, and acknowledge the need for more green cards to fuel the economy. Much needs to be done to fill in the details that will mean the difference between viable legislation and a prescription for deeper dysfunction. Zero-sum is not the answer. The answer lies in capturing the needs of all segments of our economy, and in ensuring that families remain strong and unified.
"Enforcement is a necessary element of any reform effort, but we should recognize that current enforcement already is at historic highs. Further, enforcement must be federal, not local, and must take into account the factors that occur in life and anticipate the kinds of mistakes that our overly complex system sometimes creates. We hope that some of the harsh rhetoric in these standards does not overtake the need for fairness in our system. Our borders must be secure. Employment verification must be effective. But the human element must never be forgotten.
"So let's take these standards as an opening and see what kind of real legislation comes from them. Poll after poll shows that our country doesn't want to see more hostile bills on immigration; we want to see bipartisan, common-sense legislation that converts the undocumented into full participants in our society, reforms the legal immigration system, and makes for effective and humane enforcement and border security," concluded Mr. Stump.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.