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AILA’s Statement on the SOLVE Act

American Immigration Lawyers Association

May 4, 2004
Contact: Judith Golub (202) 216-2403
or Julia Hendrix (202) 216-2404

On the Introduction of the SOLVE Act of 2004
(Safe, Orderly Legal Visas and Enforcement Act of 2004)

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) strongly commends Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Representatives Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), and others on the introduction of the SOLVE Act of 2004 (Safe, Orderly Legal Visas and Enforcement Act of 2004).

We applaud these Members of Congress for taking a giant step toward helping this nation achieve the goal of creating an immigration system that reflects our nation's values, traditions, and needs. We urge bipartisan support for this measure because it recognizes that the status quo is broken and that change is urgently needed to address the concerns of American families and businesses and enhance our national security. The bill includes many important provisions that will help address the problems that plague our current immigration system, not the least of which is that a dysfunctional system breeds disrespect for the law. Enforcing such a system leads only to more dysfunction and disrespect. Transformation of our current unworkable and outdated system to one that promotes safe, legal, and orderly immigration is long past due.

The SOLVE Act would bring us laws that make sense, make us safer, support our economy, and help families reunify. The SOLVE Act achieves these ends through a comprehensive overhaul of our immigration laws, redressing the root causes of our system's interrelated problems. We must make legality the norm and immigration reflective of the needs of American families, businesses, and national security. The SOLVE Act achieves these ends through:

" An earned adjustment program: Undocumented people with a demonstrated commitment to the U.S. as evidenced by working hard, paying taxes, and contributing to their communities, should be given the opportunity to obtain permanent residence and get on the citizenship path. Many have made the U.S their home, are paying taxes, raising families (typically including U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident spouses and children), and contributing to their communities and the industries in which they work.
  • New "break-the-mold" worker program: Current immigration laws do not meet the needs of our economy. A new program would give workers the opportunity to legally work where they are needed and employers, who cannot find U.S. workers, the legal workforce they need to remain competitive. Such a program would provide legal visas, family unity, full labor rights, labor mobility and a path to permanent residence and citizenship over time, and would diminish significantly future illegal immigration by creating for the first time a workable, legal avenue to enter the U.S. and return, as many wish, to their home countries, communities, and families.

  • Family backlog reduction: Our family preference immigration system has not been updated in more than a decade, and an increasing number of immediate family members are separated for as long as twenty years. The SOLVE Act's family backlog reduction provisions recognize that the U.S. values strong families.

  • Enhanced national security measures: Among other provisions, The SOLVE Act would require program participants to have machine-readable, tamper-resistant visas and documents with biometric identifiers for all programs and undergo criminal and national security background checks before work permits and travel documents are issued.

AILA looks forward to working with Members of Congress and the Bush Administration in support of an immigration system that works. Comprehensive immigration reform is an idea whose time has come. While we work on such reform, AILA urges the swift passage of pending legislation that already has bipartisan Congressional support: the Agricultural Job Opportunity, Benefits and Security (AgJobs) Act (S. 1645/H.R. 3142) and the DREAM/Student Adjustment Act (S. 1545/H.R.1684). Both of these bipartisan measures would implement needed reforms.

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Founded in 1946, AILA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that provides its Members with continuing legal education, information, and professional services. AILA advocates before Congress and the Administration and provides liaison with the DHS and other government agencies. AILA is an Affiliated Organization of the American Bar Association.

American Immigration Lawyers Association
918 F Street NW, Washington, DC, 20004-1400
Phone (202) 216-2400; Fax (202) 783-7853

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 04050468.