AILA Public Statements, Advocacy & Media

AILA Urges House Committee to Move Away from Ineffective “Enforcement-Only” Immigration Legislation

6/13/13 AILA Doc. No. 13061343. Admissions & Border

Thursday, June 13, 2013

George Tzamaras
Belle Woods

Washington, DC - The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) urges the House Judiciary Committee to move away from ineffective "enforcement-only" immigration reform and instead join the Senate in considering bipartisan common-sense legislation. The bill being discussed at today's hearing, the "Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act" or SAFE Act, will not fix our broken immigration system.

"I am disheartened by this bill and that the Committee has taken it up. It completely misses the mark on the kind of reform our country needs in order to build a 21st century immigration system that benefits us all," said AILA President Laura Lichter. She continued, "At a time when the federal government and American families are tightening their purse strings, this bill dramatically increases in spending on what is already our most expensive enforcement and detention apparatus, with no evidence that it will solve any problems caused by our dysfunctional system.

"This feels like déjà vu all over again. The SAFE Act doesn't bother with any new solutions but instead tries to resurrect an enforcement-only strategy that was sponsored nearly a decade ago by Representative Sensenbrenner, H.R. 4437. In the years since then, our government has spent an unprecedented amount on border security and enforcement, meeting benchmark after benchmark. But even those successes haven't fixed our broken system because border security is only one piece of the immigration equation. If anything, the failure of enforcement-only strategies just points out the need for a balanced overhaul, like what we see in the Senate bill.

"Instead of returning to these discredited strategies, our country needs smart enforcement. Criminalizing undocumented immigrants will not make us safer. What works is bringing the undocumented out of the shadows to register and start what is shaping up to be a grueling road to citizenship on our terms. Enforcement should focus on those who pose an actual danger to public safety or national security. We urge the House to instead move toward a strong bipartisan approach similar to S. 744, one that will establish tough standards, protect our nation, and provide a path out of the shadows for others," she concluded.


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.