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AILA Calls Politically Polarizing Legislation Unworthy of Full Committee Hearing

Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 11072661 (posted Jul. 26, 2011)"

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
CONTACTS:
George Tzamaras / Jenny Werwa
202-507-7649 / 202-507-7628
gtzamaras@aila.org / jwerwa@aila.org

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, the House Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement will conduct a hearing on legislation called the Hinder the Administration's Legalization Temptation Act (HALT Act). The HALT Act, introduced by House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX), would suspend vital protections for vulnerable immigrants that have received bipartisan political support for decades. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) strongly opposes this wrong headed bill that seeks to politicize the serious issue of our broken immigration system instead of solving it.

"The HALT Act is unworthy of further Congressional consideration. It is a mean-spirited bill that is out to score cheap political points with some voters instead of meaningful legislation that attempts to solve a complex problem for all Americans," said AILA President Eleanor Pelta.

This legislation, a direct attack on the current Administration's authority to allow narrow protections for individuals with humanitarian concerns or other compelling circumstances, would sunset on the last day of President Obama's first term in office.

"Why must we waste Congress's limited time and resources on the HALT Act, which slams America's door in the faces of women battered by spouses - something Congress decided not to do more than a decade ago with the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act?" said AILA President Eleanor Pelta, referring to HALT Act provisions that would suspend President Obama's authority to grant deferred action to thousands of domestic violence survivors.

"For those seeking a solution to our nation's immigration problems, the HALT Act goes in the wrong direction. It is yet another example of an enforcement-only approach that does not create jobs, does not foster business growth, and does not help the economy recover," said Pelta. "There are smart immigration reform proposals out there that would actually spur business innovation. Those are the bills that Congress should act on," she said.

"Ironically, the HALT Act would actually hinder effective immigration law enforcement by forcing DHS to spend its resources going after low-priority individuals, rather than the real threats to our homeland security. That makes all of us less safe," said Pelta.

This country needs smart, thoughtful ideas for real immigration reform, not attacks on vulnerable immigrants and their families. Congress should reject the HALT Act as a dangerous distraction from the real work of immigration reform.

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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.