Hopes for Fair and Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bolstered by Passage of Senate Measure, Though Significant Obstacles Remain

Following the Senate’s passage of the comprehensive immigration reform bill S. 2611, People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas released the following statement:

“The Senate’s legislation presents an opportunity for our country to move forward by securing our borders and providing a fair and realistic solution to millions of hard-working immigrants who live in and contribute to our society.

“We strongly support the principles underlying the Senate approach, and we urged senators to support its passage. S. 2611 includes a path to earned legalization, a temporary worker program, and a family reunification program. These three provisions are indispensable.

“Nevertheless, the measure remains flawed. The three-tiered earned legalization program is unnecessary, onerous and wasteful, and would force an estimated two million undocumented immigrants to remain in the shadows of society with no path to legal status.

“The Senate legislation also provides for the indefinite detention of immigrants, burdens state and local authorities with the responsibility of enforcement of federal immigration laws, and unnecessarily expands the range of offenses classified as aggravated felonies. We can do better, and we hope these troubling provisions are removed by the conference committee.

“Despite these flaws, S. 2611 is a good-faith attempt to fix our chaotic immigration system. It stands in stark contrast to the punitive, unbalanced, and unrealistic approach that the House took with H.R. 4437. The Senate’s passage of this much more appealing measure indicates that the parameters of debate have shifted dramatically in favor of fairness in recent months. We will work with conferees to encourage them to agree this year on a fair and comprehensive approach to immigration reform.”

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