Fair path to citizenship mustn’t rely on more inefficient border controls   

PHILADELPHIA (January 30, 2013) – The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Quaker peace and social justice organization, finds it helpful that both President Obama and eight U.S. senators have agreed the time is now for creating a path to citizenship. But it should not be paired with more unnecessary, ineffective border control measures, or expansion of employment verification programs such as E-Verify and I-9 audits, which put labor protections of all workers at risk.

A fair path for permanent status can’t be created without input from the people most affected—undocumented people themselves who’ve seen this issue ignored for years.

Those communities have been calling for the end of the current cruel, costly, and inefficient system of detention and deportation. It makes no sense to continue this bad policy when all agreed that the underlying law is broken.

Further, both proposals would create an almost 30 year wait time for people who are applying under a proposed provisional residence. The current line may be already up to 20 years in some cases, and that backlog must be addressed at the same time that new applications are submitted for the proposed legalization program. In other cases, there’s just no line to wait on.

“We are glad to see the Senate and the President beginning the important process of advancing immigration policy reform. However, the need for reform was put back in the spotlight because of the clear message impacted communities sent in the 2012 elections. So far, what is on the table misses the point,” says Aura Kanegis, AFSC’s director of public policy and advocacy. “To be effective, reforms must be directly informed by the voices of affected communities, not simply the needs of big business or a desire to look 'tough' by continuing failed, costly enforcement strategies for bad policies.”

While bills have yet to be submitted, and there is a long path ahead, AFSC urges lawmakers to keep due process and respect for human rights for all at the top of their minds as they finally create just, fair, and humane immigration reform.

Based on decades of work with and for immigrants across the country, AFSC has created A New Path, our seven principles for a new path toward a humane immigration policy.

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