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Immigration Reform and the Path to Citizenship a Comprehensive Approach to Immigration Reform

WHEREAS:

            The United States of America (U.S.) immigration system is broken, long-forgotten and needs to be reformed; and

WHEREAS:

            Due to national crises, foreign wars, the economic breakdown, and political strife, painstaking efforts to revamp the U.S. immigration system have been dwarfed. As a result, roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants continue to battle antiquated and inadequate pathways to legal immigration. The depth and scope of this issue, along with various other issues plaguing undocumented immigrants in the U.S., underscore the urgency for Congress to act now and develop a comprehensive approach to immigration reform; and

WHEREAS:

            The United States’ broken immigration system creates challenges for immigrant workers and their families. Undocumented immigrant workers are without a voice when facing dangerous working conditions, unfair labor practices and unreasonable low wages. These circumstances, coupled with the fear that their employers may report them to the authorities, leave immigrant workers vulnerable to unscrupulous employers who stand to gain from their illegal status; and

WHEREAS:

            While the Senate’s introduction and passing of the bipartisan Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S.744) represents a significant step towards mending our immigration system, the House of Representatives has yet to vote on S.744 or make S.744 a part of the House’s debate; and

WHEREAS:

            The Republican majority has abandoned the Hastert Rule to raise the debt ceiling and end the recent government shutdown. This rule should be abandoned to promote economic benefit for all Americans; and

WHEREAS:

            Republicans in the House of Representatives have proposed a piecemeal approach instead of a comprehensive approach to immigration reform. This approach would divide S.744 into a number of smaller bills with a focus on strengthening border security and no guarantee of a pathway to U.S. citizenship; and

WHEREAS:

            The Constitution of the United States grants the federal government exclusive jurisdiction over immigration matters.  It is time for Congress to enact laws that promote a comprehensive approach to immigration reform.  A key element is a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million dedicated undocumented immigrants; and

WHEREAS:

            A majority of Americans have consistently stated in polls and demonstrated in recent elections that they support comprehensive immigration reform; and

WHEREAS:

            It is time to make comprehensive immigration reform a reality. It is time for Congress to use its legislative power and pass immigration legislation that not only comports with this nation’s strong values, but provides a clear and realistic pathway to citizenship for the 11 million dedicated undocumented immigrants; and

WHEREAS:

            To address the dramatic challenges facing the approximately 11 million hopeful citizens, comprehensive immigration reform must include:

  1. A roadmap to citizenship for undocumented immigrants that is equitable and realistic;
  2. Provisions that support families;
  3. Provisions that ensure safe borders and enhances our nation’s national security, while protecting an individual’s right to due-process;
  4. Provisions that protect current and future U.S. immigrants; and
  5. Provisions demonstrating our steadfast commitment to inclusion and naturalization for immigrants who wish to become U.S. citizens.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:

            A comprehensive system must be developed and implemented that will allow undocumented immigrants, who have shown a commitment to the U.S., such as commencing the initial registration process, a willingness to learn English or meaningful contribution to society, to obtain legal status and ultimately citizenship without the red tape; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:

            That while the number of immigrants illegally entering and residing in the U.S. is the focal point of many discussions on immigration, the family immigration system is crumbling. The breakdown of the family immigration structure directly impacts the influx of unauthorized immigrants. A reasonable solution would address the current and growing backlog and include a systematic approach that would create reasonable measures to strengthen respect for our laws; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:

            That there needs to be safe and effective mechanisms in place for future immigrants to legally gain entry into the U.S. Accordingly, implemented border law guidelines should be fair and focused, and geared towards preventing criminals from entering the U.S. or engaging in illegal activity; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:

            That a realistic approach to comprehensive immigration reform must also provide adequate resources and protections to ensure the successful integration of immigrant workers, and advocate the expansion of community based programs that provide legal, housing, medical, mental health and other services geared towards immigrant communities; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:

            Finally, comprehensive immigration reform must be humanely enforced by reducing the use of immigration detention and deportation, and supporting the use of alternative means of enforcement such as community based programs for immigrants; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:

            That AFSCME urges Congress to take immediate steps towards creating a comprehensive immigration system that answers the cry for those wishing to become U.S. citizens and does not use guest worker programs; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED:

            That AFSCME will continue to advocate for the creation and implementation of solid comprehensive immigration laws that acknowledge the most vital issues of immigration reform today.

 

SUBMITTED BY:
Carmen Charles, President and Delegate
Belinda Medina, Recording Secretary and Delegate
AFSCME Local 420, District Council 37
New York

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