Justice in Immigration Reform
Adopted 2007 (Topical)
The current immigration debate addresses two issues: 1) the presence in the U.S. of millions of undocumented immigrant workers and 2) the future cultural, ethnic, racial and economic diversity of legal immigrants.
Public debate has focused primarily on the first issue, and has pivoted on claims about national security, the labor market, law and order, public benefits, and the citizenship status of children born in the US to undocumented workers. The immigration reform proposal currently under consideration treats the gradual, earned legalization of qualified undocumented workers as part of an employment policy to assure the availability of lower-paid labor for employers. As a result, the proposal imposes hurdles to legalization that injure family integrity and stability, including requirements to leave the US for an extended time before legalization can begin, as well as restrictions on the right of spouses and children to accompany a wage-earner who enters under the proposed guest worker program.
But the 2007 Kennedy-Kyl immigration bill is not only about current undocumented immigrants and future guest workers. It also aims to overturn the current paradigm for immigration, such as family reunification. Current immigration law is neutral as to the culture, color, class, and personal characteristics of immigrants, privileging, instead, values of family and community. The current immigration proposal would demote family reunification as a consideration in determining eligibility to immigrate and would give priority to English proficiency, advanced education, and technical skill. The proposed “merit-based” system would disadvantage potential immigrants from the developing world, especially those who are poor. It would also disadvantage women, who currently enter the U.S. disproportionately on family-based visas and who would be less likely to score highly under the “merit-based” system given gender stratification across the globe.
The very concept of “merit-based” immigration exposes the eugenic nature of currently contemplated immigration reform. If the introduction of “merit” is part of “reform,” that means that current immigrants have little merit -- this, in spite of their vast contributions to our economy and our communities. The aim of the proposed system will be to keep out Mexicans, and Southeast Asian immigrants.
ADA calls for a humane and just immigration policy that adheres to the following principles:
1. All children born in the U.S. are full citizens by birth, including those born to undocumented mothers.
2. All persons residing in the U.S. and its territories enjoy protection of the Constitution and the protection of anti-discrimination and labor laws.
3. All immigrants must be respected in their economic rights including the right to join a union and demand a livable wage. Immigrants must have access to housing, education, TANF and other basic services.
4. All children residing in the U.S. and its territories must have access to public education.
5. Consideration of requests for political and religious asylum status should be clear and standardized while accommodating refugee requests from women and children fleeing unresolved domestic violence, gender persecution, or genital mutilation situations.
Economic development of impoverished world communities is the best deterrent to illegal immigration.
Deportations should be suspended. ADA will work to improve the proposed Kennedy-Kyl Immigration Reform bill to achieve the following changes:
1. Immigration policy must not classify potential immigrants on the basis of culture, class, color, language proficiency, or any other traits mis-characterized as “merit-based.”
2. Immigration policy must not include a temporary or guest worker program.
3. Immigration policy must not require undocumented heads of families to return to countries of origin for extended periods nor require them to pay a fee of $5000 to purchase legal status.
4. Immigrants should not have to pay a fee of $5,000 to purchase legal status.
5. Immigration policy should make family reunification a priority and should not keep families apart for extended periods of time.
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