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Friday, April 30, 2010

Obama Issues Statement Praising Senate Outline on Immigration Reform; ACLU Critical

Senate Democrats unveiled a 26-page outline for proposed immigration reform this week that closely follows a bipartisan draft put together by Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) earlier this year. See below the fold for the main points of the proposal.

In response, President Barack Obama released a statement yesterday praising the proposal and commenting on the work ahead:

“It is the federal government's responsibility to enforce the law and secure our borders, as well as to set clear rules and priorities for future immigration. The continued failure of the federal government to fix the broken immigration system will leave the door open to a patchwork of actions at the state and local level that are inconsistent and as we have seen recently, often misguided.

"The proposal outlined today in the Senate is a very important step in the process of fixing our nation’s broken immigration system. I am especially pleased to see that this detailed outline is consistent with the bipartisan framework presented by Senators Chuck Schumer and Lindsey Graham last month, and is grounded in the principles of responsibility and accountability.

"What has become increasingly clear is that we can no longer wait to fix our broken immigration system, which Democrats and Republicans alike agree doesn’t work. It’s unacceptable to have 11 million people in the United States who are living here illegally and outside of the system. I have repeatedly said that there are some essential components that must be in immigration legislation. It must call for stronger border security measures, tougher penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants and clearer rules for controlling future immigration. And it must require those who are here illegally to get right with the law, pay penalties and taxes, learn English, pass criminal background checks and admit responsibility before they are allowed to get in line and eventually earn citizenship.

"The outline presented today includes many of these elements. The next critical step is to iron out the details of a bill. We welcome that discussion, and my Administration will play an active role in engaging partners on both sides of the aisle to work toward a bipartisan solution that is based on the fundamental concept of accountability that the American people expect and deserve.”

According to an article on Roll Call, the proposal was drafted as an alternative that will be pursued by Democrats if the bipartisan negotiations on a draft bill led by Schumer and Graham don't resume. Sen. Graham abandoned the process last month.

Senate Democrats’ decision to move forward on their own drew applause from Hispanic lawmakers in the House, who have seized on Arizona’s tough new state immigration law to ramp up the pressure for the Senate to act on a comprehensive bill this year.

Here are the main points of the Senate proposal:

* Enforce borders: The lawmakers plan to increase the number of border patrol officers and provide them with better equipment to detect fraud and smuggling. They also want to install ground sensors throughout the southern border to make it easier to detect illegal border crossing.

* Free up jails: The proposal calls for the deportation of illegal immigrants currently detained in federal and local prisons. Going forward, judges should minimize detention when possible.

* Verify workers: The Social Security Administration would begin issuing fraud-resistant social security cards that include a unique biometric identifier. Employers would have to verify work authorization using the new biometric system.

* Fine employers: Companies that knowingly hire illegal immigrants would face greater fines. Employers would no longer be able to deduct the wages of unverified workers from their tax returns.

* Legalize immigrants: For the 12 million illegal immigrants already living in the United States, the proposal creates a path to citizenship. A person would begin by passing a criminal background check and paying pending fees and taxes. Eight years later, they could apply for legal resident status by demonstrating, among other things, English-language skills.

* Legalize spouses: The lawmakers plan to give legal resident status to what they call "permanent partners" of U.S. citizens. They also plan to address immigration benefits for widows, orphans, and adopted children of U.S. citizens.

* Amend visas: Foreign students who have or seek to attain U.S. degrees could apply for green cards, and foreign workers with visas could attain legal residency. A new provisional visa would be created for low-skilled workers, but employers would be encouraged to hire U.S. citizens before foreigners.

The ACLU issued a statement critical of the proposed new Social Security cards that include a biometric identifier:

If the biometric national ID card provision of the draft bill becomes law, every worker in America would have to be fingerprinted and a new federal bureaucracy - one that could cost hundreds of billions of dollars - would have to be created to issue cards. The ACLU strongly opposes the inclusion of a biometric national ID in this or any comprehensive immigration reform bill and urges senators to reject such an ID card.

The ACLU statement also criticized the "continuation of the much-criticized Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) 287(g) program," as well as other elements of the proposal.

April 30, 2010 at 10:17 AM in Border Issues, Civil Liberties, Hispanic Issues, Immigration, Minority Issues, National Security, Obama Administration | Permalink

Comments

"* Enforce borders"
Time to make cuts in Defense and stop policing the world. It is going to cost money to try to seal the border. It is going to be like the German wall during the cold war. Shoot on sight. Since commerce still needs to pass, this is a situation ripe for corruption.
On of the best ways to ease crime, corruption, violence and gun running would be to legalize drugs. Otherwise, the violence will escalate as the US pours in more and more money and weapons for border security and the insane Drug War.

Posted by: qofdisks | May 1, 2010 12:09:44 PM