It's Time to Pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Neas: Nation needs action, not talk, from members of Congress and President Bush

People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas issued the following statement on the introduction of a comprehensive immigration reform bill, the STRIVE Act (Security Through Regularized Immigration and Vibrant Economy), in the House of Representatives by Congressmen Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill. and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.:

“By anyone’s definition, our immigration system qualifies as a monumental disaster that is straining our social and cultural fabric. I congratulate Congressmen Gutierrez and Flake for their leadership and bipartisan cooperation in addressing a problem that will have further serious repercussions on our economy and national security if it goes untreated.

“Already we are suffering the effects of 10 years of inaction under Republican-led Congresses. State and local governments have tried to tackle this federal problem with patchwork legislation – some of it wrongheaded, some unconstitutional – adding to the chaos that is our immigration system.

“In several states where anti-immigrant measures have caused worker shortages, growers are being forced to leave their products to rot. In small towns across the country, immigrants are being accosted by ordinances that purport to root out lawlessness but in reality foment hate and distrust – and are draining the life out of some communities that had been invigorated by immigrants.

“In November, Americans rejected many proponents of anti-immigrant extremism. Now this Democratic-led Congress has the perfect opportunity to prove that it not only received the message, but is prepared to act in a responsible way to address a serious national problem.

“It is imperative that members of Congress take action to remedy this situation. This bill does that. It secures our borders, and by offering an earned path to citizenship, fairly addresses the millions of undocumented immigrants who already are contributing to our society by working hard and paying taxes.

“The President has spoken many times about comprehensive immigration reform being a priority; now he needs to use his influence to secure additional Republican support for this sensible, bipartisan measure. The President’s backing could be the difference between this bill becoming law or our immigration system staying in the chaotic state it’s in.

“We have the bill. It’s time for President Bush and members of Congress to have the will. It’s time for our leaders to fulfill their responsibilities and pass comprehensive immigration reform into law.”

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