AILA Encouraged as Senators Schumer and Graham Present Their Blueprint for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Friday, March 19, 2010
George Tzamaras

WASHINGTON, DC - In an editorial published in today's The Washington Post, Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) presented their blueprint for immigration reform legislation. The outline of their proposal rests on four pillars: ending illegal employment through biometric Social Security cards, enhancing border and interior enforcement, managing the flow of future immigration to correspond to economic realities, and creating a tough but fair path toward legalization for the 11 million people currently in the U.S. without authorization. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is encouraged by this renewed step to solve the nation's broken immigration system.

"As the bar association for immigration attorneys and professors, AILA believes solving the immigration problem will help rebuild our economy, refocus our national security efforts, and contribute to our prosperity," said Bernie Wolfsdorf, President of AILA. "We are heartened that both senators recognize the important role that both high and lower-skilled immigrant workers play in ensuring our economic prosperity. It is especially promising that they see the need to create a system for admitting lower-skilled workers, a system that does not exist today."

Wolfsdorf added, "But the truth is that any long-term solution to our nation's immigration problem requires a top-to-bottom overhaul to create a system that advances 21st century American interests and protects our core traditional values as a generous, welcoming nation deeply committed to the rule of law. Some ideas in their proposal, such as the national biometric identification and "zero-tolerance," could raise significant due process concerns if not drafted properly. With respect to the ID cards, careful attention must be paid to privacy protections and the feasibility of such a massive technological undertaking. AILA looks forward to seeing the details in Senators Schumer and Graham's bill.

The senators' legalization plan for the 11 million undocumented immigrants clearly indicates that those applying will have to register, undergo background checks, and pay a fine and back taxes as well as other steps to make themselves right with the law. These components have long been recognized as essential to distinguishing legalization from an amnesty plan. The op-ed also mentions that those applying for legalization will have to go to the "back of the line," a signal that the two senators want to ensure those waiting for years to reunify with their families or obtain employment in visa backlogs will get a fair opportunity to be processed first.

For years AILA has stated that any effective, long-term solution for our broken immigration system must do the following: First, it should require the unauthorized population to come out of the shadows, register their presence with the government, and give them the opportunity to earn legal status. Second, it should provide fair and lawful ways for American businesses to hire much-needed immigrant workers who help grow our economy while protecting U.S. workers from unfair competition and all workers from exploitation. Third, it should reduce the unreasonable and counterproductive backlogs in family-based and employment-based immigration. Fourth, it should ensure the permanent immigration system provides adequate visas to meet the needs of American families, businesses, and communities and improve upon family definitions to ensure all families are reunited. Finally, it should preserve and restore the fundamental principles of due process and equal protection while protecting our national security.

"This blueprint put forth by Senators Schumer and Graham today sets the groundwork for the President and Congress to move forward on comprehensive immigration reform. It represents a workable framework although much work is still needed, as elements such as family unity and the protection of due process were not mentioned in the op-ed and are absolutely essential to workable immigration reform. We look forward to working with them on these concepts as they complete their bill which is vital to the best interests of our nation," concluded Wolfsdorf.


The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 10031975.