Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 38me0173 (posted Nov. 1, 2000)"
October 31, 2000
CONTACT:Matt Tallmer, Public Affairs Manager
LAWYERS TO WHITE HOUSE, CONGRESS:
TONE DOWN RHETORIC; JUST GET IT DONE
WASHINGTON, D.C. -Saying a
Republican immigration proposal that helps both legal and illegal immigrants is
a good first step in addition to, not instead of, a Democratic proposal that
provides much-needed relief for deserving immigrants, the American Immigration
Lawyers Association (AILA) today called on President Clinton and leaders of the
Senate and House to negotiate a reasonable agreement that will help long-time
immigrants and their families become permanent residents.
“We embrace the Legal
Immigration Families Equity Act (LIFE) sponsored by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
that, among other provisions, would help some of the individuals wrongly denied
legalization in the mid-1980s, and spouses and minor children of legal permanent
residents who have waited more than three years for their permanent residency.
But the fact remains that LIFE does not go far enough,” said Jeanne A.
Butterfield, AILA’s Executive Director. It
offers nothing for the spouses and children of U.S citizens, and offers no
relief for the valued employees of businesses, and is silent on the unequal
treatment of refugees now residing in the U.S.
Butterfield commended LIFE,
which was included in the Commerce, Justice and State appropriations bill
approved last week by the House and Senate, for helping people who are here both
legally and illegally. She noted
that about half of the 700,000 people who would benefit under the LIFE provision
for spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents are here illegally.
Further, immigration experts estimate that up to 70% of the 1,000,000 people
helped by the LIFE provision pertaining to those wrongly denied legalization in
the 1980s also entered the U.S. illegally.
Those helped by the LIFE
proposal are long-time, contributing members of society who have family and
business ties here and merit relief. Key employer groups, including the National
Restaurant Association, note that stabilizing and regularizing their workforces
is essential for America’s continued economic growth.
Ms. Butterfield made her remarks
at a Capitol Hill press conference convened by representatives of the National
Council of La Raza, the National Restaurant Association, the National
Immigration Forum, along with AILA. All these organizations, among others,
endorse S. 2912, the Latino and Immigrant Fairness Act (LIFA), sponsored by
Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Bob Graham (D-FL). Other political leaders
supporting LIFA include President Clinton, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and former
Republican vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp.
“LIFA helps specifically
targeted groups of long-term, contributing immigrants apply for permanent
residency. It is not blanket amnesty. Rather, LIFA offers benefits to people who
are here both legally and illegally, as does the Hatch proposal,” Butterfield
LIFA specifically would allow
all victims of the INS’ misinterpretations of the 1986 legalization program,
plus their immediate family members, to apply for green cards. It also would
extend NACARA to people fleeing civil strife and war, thereby correcting past
discriminatory treatment of refugees. Finally, it would restore Section 245(i),
thereby allowing individuals who are eligible for immigrant visas after being
sponsored by a close family member or an employer to finish the process here,
rather than being forced to leave the U.S. for up to 10 years.
“The Administration and
Republican leaders are not that far apart on policy. Their differences are
rhetorical. Both proposals would benefit immigrants who have been in legal but
vulnerable status, as well as those who are here illegally. Both merit
Congressional approval. LIFA and LIFE combined would provide stability and
relief to hundreds of thousands of long-term, tax-paying immigrants and their
families and employers. We urge leaders on all sides to turn down the volume and
negotiate a positive agreement,” Butterfield said.