Bill’s narrow path to citizenship still sustains human rights hardships

PHILADELPHIA  (June 27, 2013)  -  The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) finds the Senate immigration reform bill passed today offers much less than it should, and at great sacrifice to quality of life for all U.S. residents.

While the bill creates a narrow path to citizenship for some and makes modest progress on some worker rights issues, it not only reproduces but dramatically expands upon many of the current failed immigration policies, making it a far cry from the just and humane reforms that immigrant communities, faith, labor, and advocacy groups have been calling for. 

“The Senate bill makes it possible for some share of undocumented people currently living in the U.S. to embark on a path toward legalization. But it would not end the current cruel, costly, and inefficient system of detention and deportation, and it provides for astounding investments in the border militarization industrial complexmeaning billions for defense contractors and continuing crises for people on both sides of the border,” said Adriana Jasso of AFSC’s San Diego program.

“The path to legalization is much narrower than people are making it out to be. It is indeed a precarious path to legalization that will leave many people behind,” said Pedro Sosa of AFSC’s Portland, Ore., immigrant rights program. “In fact, many commonplace situations—such as a period greater than 60 days of unemployment during the ten year provisional period—will make an immigrant ineligible for legal permanent residency. 

“Making the highly flawed E-Verify system a requirement for all employers is only a recipe for further exploitation and marginalization of immigrant workers and people of color," he said.

Jasso noted that the bill’s original provisions for border militarization and other enforcement programs were “already excessive. And despite hearing directly from these communities about the impacts of living in an area dominated by militarization, the Senate doubled down on these measures, failing to consider the humane, meaningful, and effective reforms that are so desperately needed.”

As the House of Representatives takes up the bill, AFSC implores them to adopt compassionate, effective immigration reform grounded in the following principles:

  • Develop humane economic policies to reduce forced migration.
  • Protect the labor rights of all workers.
  • Develop a quick path to legal permanent residency and a clear path to citizenship.
  • Respect the civil and human rights of immigrants.
  • Demilitarize the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • Make family reunification a top priority.
  • Ensure that immigrants and refugees have access to services.

AFSC details its recommendations in A New Path, which outlines policy priorities for immigration reform that protects the human rights of all. The New Path principles are derived from nine decades of work with immigrant communities, whose voices guide AFSC’s work on immigration policies.