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Immigration Reform: A Growing Need to Act

September 18th, 2007

The effort in July 2007 to reform the broken immigration system was defeated in Congress by a Republican-led filibuster. The defeated bill was a bi-partisan proposal that aimed at passing comprehensive immigration reform. While everybody acknowledges the immigration system as broken, no party is showing the leadership necessary to fix the problem. Critics of comprehensive immigration reform saw the proposal as amnesty. However, immigration critics are not offering an alternative solution to the problem, and thus indirectly support the illegality and status quo of a broken immigration system.

Comprehensive immigration reform would create legal entry channels, thus stopping the illegal influx of immigrants and enabling families to stay together. U.S. employers would not choose to hire undocumented employees at cheap wages over American born workers because of the legal duty to pay a fair wage to all workers.

Tragically, immigration policy failure has had a costly impact on immigrants and their families. Millions of undocumented people continue to risk their lives in crossing the dangerous U.S./Mexico border and live in fear, more vulnerable to employer exploitation. Opposing comprehensive immigration is equivalent to supporting illegal immigration over the development of adequate legal channels.

The next steps by Congress are still unclear. The failure of Congress on immigration has resulted in state governments taking the issue into their hands by passing local immigration legislation. Some local authorities have passed anti-immigrant laws that penalize landlords who rent to undocumented immigrants, deny immigrants access to public social benefits and authorize traffic police to check immigration status whenever someone is pulled over for a routine traffic stop. This has destroyed neighborhood trust and increased racial profiling incidents.

The Bush Administration announced on August 10th, the implementation of an enforcement-only strategy on immigration. One of the strategies is to penalize employers who hire undocumented immigrants by sending them social security no-match letters. This strategy will impact the economy as workers will be vulnerable to losing their jobs. It also has civil rights implications The No-Match letter is sent by the Social Security Administration notifying the employer that reports submitted on W-2 forms do not match the SSA records, with an intention of correcting numbers so that the database has accurate information on employee earning records. However, the DHS is now using those SSA records to enforce immigration laws, hence raising questions about DHS authority over the SSA.

Failure to act to reform immigration is unacceptable. Comprehensive immigration reform would put an end to illegality and protect American born workers. Comprehensive reforms would stop immigrant border deaths in the deserts of the Southwest. Supporting Comprehensive immigration reform is about humane treatment of immigrants. It is about protecting human life; a fundamental value to both political parties. Comprehensive Immigration reform is good for the economy and for the security of the nation.

The enforcement only strategy evinced in an upcoming Republican sponsored bill (S-1984: Immigration Enforcement and Border Security Act of 2007) would lead to greater employee exploitation and is a security risk in the post 9/11 world. Send a strong message to your Congressional representative that Comprehensive Immigration Reform is essential, and that he/she should oppose any enforcement bills such as S.-1984.

Time is running out; comprehensive immigration reform is a growing need that requires bold action now.

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