FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 27, 2014
Congressional District 6 residents present Congressman Bob Goodlatte
with immigration reform principles focused on action not rhetoric
Harrisonburg, Virginia – More than a dozen local leaders of Virginia Organizing, a statewide member-based organization, presented a list of Immigration Reform Principles to Keep Families Together to Rep. Bob Goodlatte on Monday afternoon, urging the Sixth District Congressman to act on permanent and fair immigration reform legislation with a path to citizenship. (The list, in letter form, is attached.)
“We want real reform, not band aids or more empty rhetoric,” said Ricardo Cortez, a Virginia Organizing Harrisonburg Chapter leader.
“For far too long, we have had policies that break apart thousands of immigrant families every year, wreak havoc in communities, tear parents from children, and cause pain and financial catastrophes,” said Cortez. “The approach has created a moral urgency to pass comprehensive immigration reform.”
Leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives have promised to release principles on immigration reform soon.
“As they get ready to unveil their principles, we want them to hear from us,” Stan Maclin said. “We are excited that the House leadership is talking about immigration reform principles. But the time for talking is way past due. We need bold leadership from Speaker Boehner and Rep. Goodlatte to keep families together now–not more speeches.”
Local residents told Rep. Goodlatte’s Harrisonburg staff personal stories about their difficulties dealing with the current broken immigration system.
Virginia Organizing is a non-partisan statewide grassroots organization that brings people together to create a more just Virginia.
January 27, 2004
Rep. Bob Goodlatte
2309 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Rep. Goodlatte,
As you work with your colleagues in Congress to fix our broken immigration system, we want to stress the importance of incorporating the following principles into the legislation that you develop:
1) Provide a Path to Citizenship for ALL Members of Our Communities - Creating a path to citizenship for undocumented members of our communities is a crucial component of successful immigration reform and would benefit immigrants and their families and the U.S.-born by, among other effects, raising the floor for all workers and providing all with equal labor protections. In addition, citizenship for the current undocumented members of our communities would result in dramatic economic benefits for the entire country.
2) Reunite ALL Families and Reduce Immigration Backlogs – The separation of families is not only morally unacceptable, immigration reform cannot be successful until we synchronize public policy with one of the main factors driving migration: family unity for all families, including LGBTQ families. Currently, families are divided by visa waiting periods and processing delays that can last decades. Immigration reform must strengthen the family immigration system and keep families together by increasing the number of visas available both overall and within each family category.
3) Provide Opportunities for Safe Future Migration and Maintaining Worker Protections – We need a “break-the-mold” program that creates a legal and safe alternative for migrants, facilitates and enforces equal rights for all workers, and minimizes the opportunities for abuse by unscrupulous employers and others.
4) Establish Border Policy that Respects Border and Immigrant Communities – Reforming our immigration laws doesn’t mean we need to waste more taxpayer money on enforcement. Unauthorized border crossings have reached historic lows, yet the cost of border and other immigration enforcement is an historic high, after a decade of massive growth in border enforcement funding. Immigration reform must establish border principles that respect border and immigrant communities.
5) Respect the Safety and Security of All in Immigration Enforcement – Now more than ever, fair enforcement policies are key to rebuilding trust among immigrant communities and protecting the security of everyone. The increased use of immigration enforcement programs that involve local law enforcement such as Secure Communities and 287(g) has been ineffective and harmful to immigrant communities. These programs have been proven to undermine trust between local police and the communities they serve, making us all less safe. Congress must reaffirm that immigration enforcement is the responsibility of federal immigration enforcement officials, not local police or officials.
6) Restore Fundamental Due Process and Civil Rights of Immigrants – We must uphold American values by ensuring that all people, no matter where they come from, are afforded fundamental rights, including the right to a fair day in court before being separated from family and community and deprived of liberty and the right to be free from inhumane conditions of confinement. To reduce the cost of detention imposed on taxpayers and to ensure humane and safe treatment for all individuals, immigration laws must ensure that detention is used only as a last resort.
7) Recognize Immigrants’ Full Humanity – Immigration reform must recognize the essential role of immigrants to the U.S., and the importance of providing tools and pathways for immigrants to integrate into the social, economic and civil fabric of American life. Immigrants are more than just workers. Immigrants are neighbors, family members, students, members of our society, and an essential part of the future of the United States. Our immigration policies should provide immigrants with opportunities for full integration into U.S. society, including opportunities to learn English, undertake workforce training, naturalize, lead prosperous lives, engage in cultural expression, and receive equitable access to needed services, including healthcare, higher education, and housing.
We appreciate the opportunities to discuss these important issues with you in the past, and we look forward to future meetings with you.
On behalf of our members in Congressional District 6, including those who are hand delivering this letter to your Harrisonburg office, I am,
Sandra A. Cook