AILA’s Letter to Senators and Representatives to Urge Support for the SOLVE Act

May 4, 2004

Dear Senators and Representatives:

I urge you to support the SOLVE Act of 2004, the Safe, Orderly Legal Visas and Enforcement Act of 2004, introduced by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Representatives Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), and others. The SOLVE Act is a comprehensive and balanced legislation that is long overdue. This measure recognizes that our current immigration system is unworkable, outdated, in serious disarray, encourages illegality, and does not enhance our security. This measure would fix a broken system by reuniting families, rewarding work, respecting workers, reducing illegal immigration, and enhancing our security. The SOLVE Act achieves these ends through:

  • An earned adjustment for people who work hard, pay taxes, and contribute to their communities: Undocumented people who demonstrate their commitment to this country and its principles should be given the opportunity to obtain permanent residence and get on the path to citizenship. Many have made the U.S their home, are paying taxes, raising families (typically including U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident spouses and children), and contributing to their communities and the industries in which they work.

  • New "break-the-mold" worker program: Current immigration laws do not meet the needs of our economy. A new program would give workers the opportunity to legally work where they are needed and employers, who cannot find U.S. workers, the legal workforce they need to remain competitive, without displacing U.S. workers. Such a program would provide legal visas, family unity, full labor rights, labor mobility and a path to permanent residence and citizenship over time, and would diminish significantly future illegal immigration by creating for the first time a workable, legal avenue through which people can enter the U.S. and return, as many wish, to their home countries, communities, and families. We look forward to working with the bill's sponsors to refine program contours.

  • Family backlog reduction: Our family preference immigration system has not been updated in more than a decade, and an increasing number of families face periods of separation of up to twenty years. The SOLVE Act's family backlog reduction provisions recognize that the U.S. is a country that values strong families by, among other measures, adjusting the number of visas available annually.

  • Enhanced national security measures: Among other provisions, The SOLVE Act would require program participants to have machine-readable, tamper-resistant visas and documents with biometric identifiers for all programs and undergo criminal and national security background checks before work permits and travel documents are issued.

Comprehensive immigration reform is necessary if we are to enhance our national security. Reform that legalizes hard-working people already here and that creates a new temporary worker program will help the U.S. government focus resources on enhancing security instead of on detaining hard-working people who fill vacancies in the U.S. labor market or seek to reunite with their close family members. In addition, both a legalization program and a temporary worker program will encourage people to come out of the shadows to be scrutinized by our government. The legality that results from these initiatives also will contribute to our national security.

We urge you to support this measure, a giant step forward toward helping this nation achieve the goal of creating an immigration system that reflects our nation's values, our traditions, and our needs. We also urge the swift passage of pending legislation with significant Congressional support: the Agricultural Job Opportunity, Benefits and Security (AgJobs) Act (S. 1645/H.R. 3142) and the DREAM/Student Adjustment Act (S. 1545/H.R.1684). Both these bipartisan measures would implement needed reforms.


Jeanne Butterfield
Executive Director

Judith Golub
Senior Director
Advocacy and Public Affairs

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 04050475.