The President and Congress Need to Act on Important Immigration Issues

April 30, 2001

Matt Tallmer,
Public Affairs Manager
202-216-2404;    Fax: 202-371-9449

The President and Congress Need to Act
on Important Immigration Issues

WASHINGTON – The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) today released letters to President Bush and Congress, calling on both to take action on vital immigration issues.

“We are issuing these letters because today, April 30, is an important date, marking the first 100 days of both the Bush Administration and the 107th Congress, and the last day immigrants can file to maintain their eligibility for an important immigration provision. During these 100 days, both the Administration and Congress did not address issues of vital importance to immigrant communities nationwide,” said Jeanne A. Butterfield, AILA’s Executive Director.

  “We urge both the President and Congress to take concrete, positive steps during the second 100 days to support extension and permanent restoration of Section 245(i), reorganizing the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), implementing due process reforms, and supporting essential workers.”

The letters specifically call upon the President and Congress to take the following actions:

  • Extend and Permanently Restore Section 245(i): April 30 also marks the last date a person can file a petition or application with the Immigration and Naturalization Service to preserve eligibility under Section 245(i). (Section 245(i) allows eligible people to adjust their status in this country. It is vitally important given the three and ten-year bars that were included in the harsh, 1996 immigration laws. Section 245(i) is pro-family, pro-business, good policy, and makes fiscal sense.) Eligible people have struggled to file their petitions by April 30. However, we know that many will be unable to benefit from Section 245(i) because there are insufficient attorneys and authorized legal service organizations available to handle theses cases by April 30.

“We urge Congress to immediately pass, and President Bush to immediately sign, an extension of this urgently needed provision. While vitally important, extending 245(i) only is a temporary solution. We urge the President and Congress to support the permanent restoration of Section 245(i),” Butterfield said.

  • Reorganize the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS): Both the Administration and Congress recognize the need to reorganize the INS. To be successful, such reorganization should fulfill the following criteria: Put someone in charge with clout; separate, but coordinate, the enforcement and adjudications functions; and provide adequate resources to fund the adjudications function. In addition, the long backlogs at the INS need to be significantly reduced prior to any successful reorganization implementation.

Butterfield explained that immigration advocates expect that bills that seek to reorganize the INS shortly will be introduced in Congress. “We urge you to base your support for these measures on their fulfilling the criteria noted above,” she said.

  • Implement Due Process Reform: The harsh 1996 immigration laws need to be changed because they violate core American principles of law, justice, and fairness. These laws lack proportionality, subjecting legal, long-term permanent residents to deportation for minor offenses, often committed decades earlier. These laws operate retroactively, changing the rules in the middle of the game. By prohibiting judicial review and discretion, they do not allow people their day in court. In short, the 1996 immigration laws are un-American.

AILA urges both the President and Congress to support measures that address these harsh laws and prevent families from being torn apart.

  • Support Essential Workers: Our country is experiencing a labor shortage, especially in the service sector. This shortage is expected to last for more than two decades. At the same time, service sector employers are seeking to regularize the status of currently undocumented workers to stabilize their labor forces.

“We urge the President and Congress to support legislation that would create workable and new temporary nonimmigrant visa programs, additional green cards for essential workers, as well as earned adjustment for undocumented workers who are in the labor force, paying taxes, and contributing to our economy,” Butterfield said.



Cite as AILA Doc. No. 01043059.