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Economic and Social Justice for Immigrants No. 227

Adopted 1994
Reaffirmed 1995
Amended 1996
Amended 1997
Reaffirmed 1998
Reaffirmed 1999
Amended 2000
Reaffirmed 2002
Amended 2003
Amended 2005
Reaffirmed 2007
         The United States of America is a nation forged and populated largely by people from other lands. Immigrants fleeing persecution and deprivation have replenished our nation’s vitality and culture with enthusiasm and resiliency.
         Political officeholders and candidates have often exaggerated the burdens that immigrants place on government resources and ignored the contributions made by the vast majority of industrious, proud, and respectable immigrants. Special demagoguery and vitriolic scapegoating have been directed at undocumented immigrants, the most deprived, exploited, and abused individuals. Undocumented immigrants, because of their status, are especially vulnerable to exploitation. Some literally are enslaved in inhumane sweatshops. They often work for very low wages and, therefore, displace American workers and depress wages. This can be prevented in large part by enforcing existing labor laws. Congress must explicitly state that labor laws apply to undocumented immigrants.
         Many politicians, pandering to the fears and prejudices of the electorate, claim that undocumented immigrants are the cause of our nation’s economic ills, taking more from our society than they contribute. Based on unsupported assertions, demagogues propose cruel and punitive measures, such as denying these individuals food, housing, health care, education and other social benefits.
        This approach stifles a national resource by entangling law-abiding immigrants in a dragnet of suspicion. It promotes invidious discrimination and racism. It characterizes people by their residency status, rather than by their humanity.
         Therefore, ADA:
  • Condemns the use of immigrants as the scapegoat for economic ills. Condemns political officeholders and candidates who distort the realities of immigration for political gain.
  • Strongly opposes any legislation or proposed Constitutional amendment that would deny citizenship to children born in the United States to mothers who are undocumented.
  • Opposes President Bush’s January 2004 proposal to create a 3-year guest worker visa program without a path to legal permanent status; such a program would create a new, highly vulnerable, immigrant underclass and would do nothing to resolve long-term immigration issues.
  • Opposes attempts to force local authorities to act as immigration agents. Immigrants should be able to report crimes to their local police and serve as witnesses in court without fear of deportation.
  • Urges the United States government to state a well-defined, humane and enforceable immigration policy based on the historical role of the immigrant in this country. Humanitarian and cultural objectives are justifications for immigration. Therefore:
  • Primary consideration should be given to refugees fleeing lands where their lives or human rights are in jeopardy, including young women seeking to avoid genital mutilation. Those seeking asylum in the U.S., including those who do not arrive with proper documentation, must be given adequate time and access to appropriate resources to be able to make fair representation of their claims.
  • In terms of these refugees, the special consideration given to undocumented Cuban immigrants is patently unfair when compared to the treatment, for example, of Haitian refugees.
  • Immigrants who have established lives in the U.S., including working and paying taxes for a period of years, should have the opportunity to earn legal residency status with a path toward citizenship.
  • Family reunification is a humanitarian goal and should be a prime consideration in allowing immigration. The current multiyear backlog of family reunification cases is unacceptable.
  • Cultural diversity is enhanced when immigrants arrive from many parts of the globe.
  • The federal government should provide adequate funding for English as a Second Language classes.
  • Believes immigrants and their children, with and without documentation, should have full and equal access to all public services, including education, health care, and welfare assistance, and should be entitled to equal rights and freedoms within the workplace. Specifically, immigrants should have the right to join a union, obtain a driver’s license, and pay in-state tuition at their state’s public universities. ADA supports all legislation that enhances educational opportunities for immigrants.
  • Urges the federal government to use U.S. foreign aid to foster democratic and economic development in countries recently devastated by wars, which would facilitate the return of many refugees to their countries of origin.
  • Urges the federal government to financially compensate those states that incur significant expenses due to large influxes of immigrants.# # #

No. 227
Political and Governmental Commission

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