Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill Passes the U.S. Senate and Awaits Consideration by the U.S. House
NAACP URGES CONGRESS TO PASS COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM, DRIVEN BY A RESPECT FOR CIVIL RIGHTS, HUMAN RIGHTS AND HUMAN DIGNITY
On June 27, 2013 the United States Senate passed S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, which is a broad-based proposal for reforming the U.S. immigration system written by a bipartisan group of eight Senators. The bill addresses all aspects of the immigration process including border and enforcement issues and legal immigration reforms.
The lack of a comprehensive federal immigration policy to address today’s realities has created a broken immigration system which results in families being torn apart for decades, a slew of lopsided enforcement-only initiatives that have cost the country billions of dollars while failing to end unauthorized immigration, and problematic policies and tactics by states as well as immigration enforcement officials. While the NAACP applauds and supports the Senate for tackling this very complicated and problematic issue and developing strong legislation which earned bipartisan support, there are provisions in the Senate bill, S. 744, which need improvement. S. 744 improves the oversight and accountability mechanisms of Department of Homeland Security agencies, makes changes to the family and employment-based visa categories for immigrants, provides critical due-process protections, increases the availability of nonimmigrant workers to supplement all sectors of the workforce, and would provide legal status to 12 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States. S. 744 also includes provisions contained in NAACP-supported stand alone legislation, such as the POWER Act, which would protect immigrant guest workers against the threat of deportation while their case is being adjudicated. Unfortunately, S. 744 also includes provisions which would add unnecessary resources at the border. These policies would require billions of dollars in equipment deployed at the border, including drones and other surveillance equipment, as well as expose citizens to unreasonable searches and surveillance without the legal protections. The NAACP would also like to see an increase in the cost to businesses for hiring domestic workers. This increase should be directly applied to education and job training here in the U.S.
Comprehensive immigration reform must focus on the basic American principles of preserving family unity, opposing wasteful spending, and protecting and promoting human and civil rights, human dignity, and fairness. It must also be very aware of the economic impact any new policies will have on the American people: that is why the NAACP was pleased to learn of studies which have found that more often than not, Latino immigrants and African Americans fill complementary roles in the labor market. The study, by the Immigration Policy Center released in June of this year concludes that in metropolitan statistical areas, the increase of the Latino Immigrant experience significantly raises wages, lowers unemployment, and elevates job creation for African Americans.
Now that the Senate has passed its immigration reform bill, the U.S. House of Representatives must act. Although currently the only bills on the horizon appear to increase border security, we will work towards the final product being much more inclusive of the policies and issues that are important to us, including family reunification and a strict ban on racial profiling.