Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 02101071 (posted Oct. 10, 2002)"
American Immigration Lawyers Association
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Golub (202) 216-2403
IT IS TIME TO REFORM OUR IMMIGRATION LAWS:
We Need to Get it Right, Immigration Experts Say
Washington, D.C.- "The United States' immigration system needs to be reformed
to reflect current needs and realities," said Jeanne Butterfield, Executive
Director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. "We thus welcome
the introduction today by Representative Dick Gephardt (D-MO) of the Earned
Legalization and Family Unification Act of 2002. AILA views the introduction of
this bill as an important first step. It is high time we return to the
important task of reforming our immigration system," continued Ms.
Butterfield. "This bill begins this task by including long-overdue
provisions that would grant hard-working people an earned adjustment and
dramatically decrease the backlogs in family-based immigration. We call on
the White House to step up to the plate and take a leadership role by resuming
the U.S./Mexico discussions."
The American Immigration Lawyers Association has long supported reform of our
immigration system. As a result of our current system, families are
separated for long periods of time and U.S. employers cannot bring in needed
workers. People are forced to live an underground existence in the
shadows, declining to make themselves known to the government for fear of being
separated form their families and jobs. "We need to target our enforcement
resources on people who mean to do us harm, not on those who are filling our
labor market needs, revitalizing our communities, and seeking to fulfill the
American Dream," said Ms. Butterfield.
The Earned Legalization and Family Unification Act of 2002 recognizes that
the status quo is unacceptable, especially in a post-September 11 world in which
enhanced security is a priority, as is the need to balance our security with the
continued flow of people and goods. AILA looks forward to working in the
next Congress on this vitally needed reform with immigration supporters in the
House and Senate. Successful immigration reform will take account of the
- Immigration reform must be comprehensive: The United States'
immigration system needs to be reformed to reflect current needs and
realities. The status quo is unacceptable. Our immigration system needs to
be reformed so that legality is the norm, and immigration is legal, safe,
orderly, and reflective of the needs of American families, businesses, and
national security. Such reform would include an earned adjustment for
hard-working people, family backlog reduction and a new temporary worker
- Immigration reform is an important component of our enhanced national
security. Immigration reform that legalizes hard-working people
already here and that creates a new temporary worker program will help the U.S.
government focus its resources on enhancing security, not on detaining
hard-working people who are filling vacancies in the U.S. labor market or
seeking to reunite with their close family members. In addition, reform that
includes a new legalization program and a temporary worker program will
encourage people to come out of the shadows and be scrutinized by our
- A central component of immigration reform is an earned adjustment for
people in the U.S. without authorization: People who work hard, pay taxes,
and contribute to the U.S. should have the opportunity to obtain permanent
residence. In order to unite families and keep them together, liberal and
generous waivers must be made available for grounds of admissibility and
- Another central component of reform is the creation of a new temporary
worker program: Current immigration laws do not meet the needs of our
economy for short- and long-term employees in those sectors currently
experiencing worker shortages and others that are expected to experience
shortages when the economy rebounds. A new temporary program would give
workers the opportunity to work in areas of the country where they are needed
and would give employers experiencing shortages the workforce they need.
Current programs often have proven unusable by both employees and employers, and
do not accommodate employers facing longer-term, chronic labor shortages.
The framework for a new temporary worker program must differ significantly from
existing programs, and must respect both the labor needs of business as well as
the rights of workers.
- A third necessary component of reform is opening up legal channels for
family- and business-based immigration: Our immigration system has been
characterized by long backlogs in family-based immigration and long delays in
business-based immigration. Illegal immigration is a symptom of a system
that fails to reunify families and address economic conditions in the U.S. and
# # #
Founded in 1946, AILA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that
provides its Members with continuing legal education, information, and
professional services. AILA advocates before Congress and the Administration and
provides liaison with the INS and other government agencies. AILA is an
Affiliated Organization of the American Bar Association.
American Immigration Lawyers Association
918 F Street NW, Washington,
Phone (202) 216-2400; Fax (202) 783-7853