AILA Doc No. 13020640 | Dated February 6, 2013
Washington, DC - Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee held its first substantive hearing of the 113th Congress on "America's Immigration System: Opportunities for Legal Immigration and Enforcement of Laws against Illegal Immigration." While holding this hearing underscored the importance of immigration reform to our nation's continued economic growth and future prosperity, for the most part the discussion failed to focus on some key issues that are vital to successful immigration reform.
"The solution to the tangled, unwieldy and dysfunctional immigration system is not a piecemeal approach, despite what several of the lawmakers and witnesses said yesterday. Instead, we need to create an immigration system that is balanced and inclusive," said AILA President Laura Lichter. She continued, "At the hearing, we heard about the importance of border security and need to make our borders more secure, despite the fact that there have been billions of dollars invested and that the benchmarks established by each of the Senate immigration reform bills of 2006, 2007 and 2010 have been essentially met or exceeded. With immigration enforcement occurring at unprecedented levels, our country must address the needs of the 11 million undocumented residents, their families, and employers."
Ms. Lichter noted, "Keeping all families strong and united is a core national value and interest, and we must continue our historic commitment to those values. We should not increase employment visas at the expense of reducing visas in family categories. Our immigration system must be flexible and capable of meeting the needs of American businesses and families.
"One important topic that didn't seem to get much attention at the hearing was that we are currently denying basic due process to millions of people who live in the U.S. Long-time residents are subject to deportation even when they have strong ties to the community, pay taxes, and desperately want to become full-fledged members of our society. Many are eligible to apply for legal status, but because they lived in the U.S. for a period of time that was unauthorized they are now barred from fixing their status. Judges often have no ability to weigh the individual circumstances of the case while low-level officials often act as judge and jury, and the federal courts have been denied the power to review most agency decisions. Congress should restore fairness and flexibility to our system by authorizing immigration judges and officials to exercise discretion in considering the individual circumstances of each case," she concluded.
AILA encourages lawmakers to commit to informed discussions that will shape a common sense immigration policy that helps to rebuild America's economy, recognizes the contributions of immigrants, keeps families together, and strengthens America's security.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.
Cite as AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 13020640.