AILA Urges The Senate To Enact Workable Comprehensive Immigration Reform

May 14, 2006

George Paul Tzamaras


WASHINGTON -The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is pleased that the Senate leadership appears to have broken its deadlock and is poised to begin debate again on S. 2611, the so-called Hagel-Martinez compromise immigration bill.

"We call on each and every Senator to engage in this important debate, and to get it right", said Deborah Notkin, AILA's President. "Our country is in desperate need of workable and comprehensive reform of our immigration laws," said Notkin. "We need smart, effective border security. Our border patrol and interior enforcement personnel need good support and professional training, and need to be assisted by smart technology and infrastructure. Militarizing the border is no answer. Do Americans want a Berlin Wall at our borders, or a Korean DMZ? I don't believe so!

"The only way we can get control of our borders is to fix our broken immigration system. We need to provide legal channels for immigrants coming here to work and fill needed jobs in our expanding economy-those channels simply do not exist at the present time. Diverting the currently illegal flow to legal channels will not only serve our economy, but it will allow our border personnel to focus on the potentially dangerous people intending to come to do us harm", said Notkin

"Over the past decade, our border strategy has proven to be a dismal failure. Sending in the National Guard might sound attractive to some, but it will not fix our broken system. Spending on border enforcement quintupled in the years from 1993 through 2004-from $740 million to $3.8 billion. The number of Border Patrol agents increased three-fold in the same period, from 3965 to 10,835. And during this same period, the number of undocumented immigrants in the country more than doubled, from 4.5 million to 9.3 million. The figures speak for themselves", stated Jeanne Butterfield, AILA's executive director.

"The compromise bill pending on the Senate floor is far from perfect", stated Butterfield. "But it is a good-faith effort to move the process forward, and it would bring incredibly important relief to millions of undocumented persons currently working in the U.S. and contributing to our economy. The Senate bill would also eliminate existing family backlogs, provide much needed reforms of our agricultural worker program, allow undocumented high school students to pursue their dreams, provide a new temporary worker program for the future with good labor protections, and bring family and employment-based immigration quotas in line with U.S. needs and priorities. The bill would increase our nation's security by mandating smart border and interior enforcement and by making legality the norm."

AILA urges the Senate to ensure that S. 2611 actually accomplishes these laudable objectives by fixing those provisions that would prevent the proposed reforms and new programs from actually working. Equally important, we call on Senators from both sides of the aisle to strike or amend those sections in the bill that undermine this country's fundamental commitment to the twin principles of fair rules and due process. "This is an historic opportunity to fix an immigration system that has been broken far too long," stated Butterfield. "The Senate must get it right."


Founded in 1946, AILA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that provides its Members with continuing legal education, information, professional services and expertise through its 35 chapters and over 75 national committees. AILA also advocates before Congress and the Administration, as well as provides liaison with government agencies in support of pro-immigration initiatives. AILA is an Affiliated Organization of the American Bar Association.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 06051566.