Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 00121559 (posted Dec. 15, 2000)"
Friday, December 15, 2000
, Public Affairs Manager
OPPORTUNITIES & FUNDAMENTAL CHOICES:
on Immigration Deal
WASHINGTON, D.C. –Jeanne A.
Butterfield, the Executive Director of the American Immigration Lawyers
Association (AILA), issued the following statement on the immigration agreement
finalized today between the White House and Congress:
“We are pleased that this
agreement will provide relief to hundreds of thousands of people who have
contributed much to this country. We
wish to commend: the White House and Deputy Chief of Staff Maria Echaveste; the
Congressional Hispanic Caucus, especially Representatives Lucille Royball-Allard
(CA), Luis Gutierrez (IL) and Robert Menendez (NJ); and other Democratic
Congressional leaders, especially Senators Edward Kennedy (MA) and Tom Daschle
(SD), and Representatives Dick Gephardt (MO), Howard Berman (CA) and John
Conyers (MI). They deserve the
credit for achieving this agreement against overwhelming odds. We also commend
the immigrants and immigration advocates across this nation who, along with the
White House and our Congressional allies, pushed recalcitrant Republican leaders
to the bargaining table.
“Republican leaders missed an
opportunity to correct some grave injustices, address major needs in immigrant
communities nationwide, and follow the lead of the pro-immigration members of
their own caucus like Representatives Lincoln Diaz-Balart (FL) and Chris Smith
(NJ), and Senators John McCain (AZ) and Spencer Abraham (MI).
leadership refused to permit the full restoration of Section 245(i) (opting
instead for a four-month grandfathering), that would keep families together and
eliminate roadblocks in the way of eligible people becoming legal, and which the
Republican-controlled Senate twice passed. They refused to include in the final
deal the bipartisan H.R. 5062, which provides limited due process relief for
legal permanent residents being deported for minor offenses committed long ago,
and which passed the House without a single dissenting vote.
They also refused to discuss NACARA equity, which is supported by such
Republican lawmakers as Senator McCain and Representative Chris Smith (NJ),
among others, and thus have further delayed the fair resolution of the status of
Central Americans, Haitians and others fleeing civil strife who have been
mistreated under our laws for nearly 20 years.
“The recent presidential
campaign was marked by compassionate conservative rhetoric from the Republican
Presidential candidate and now President-elect George Bush, pro-immigrant
language in the Republican Party platform, and the party’s public strategy of
appealing to immigrant and minority voters. This agreement does not measure up
to either the President-elect’s rhetoric or the Republican strategy.
“After reading the details of
this agreement, we are left wondering: Will immigrants be faced with additional
years of rhetoric but no action on their issues? Will Governor Bush as President
turn his pro-immigration rhetoric into reality? Does the restrictionist wing,
headed by Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), speak for the Republican Party on
“Immigrant communities and
immigration supporters nationwide will continue to advocate for, among other
measures, the complete restoration of Section 245(i), NACARA parity for all
fleeing civil strife, and the restoration of due process for legal permanent
residents. These issues top the
agenda of our communities and supporters who will continue to advocate for these
and other pro-immigration measures until they become law. We call on President-elect Bush and the Republican-controlled
Congress to positively address these issues in the 107th Congress.
Immigrants nationwide will be closely watching.”