MORE INFORMATION: Immigration Reform

May 26, 2009

We are working with faith-based and other allies to insure that comrepehensive immigration reform addresses these issues: extend full recognition to the rights of immigrant workers, including the possibility of permanent status and eventual U.S. citizenship; address family immigration in a realistic way; employ effective workplace and border enforcement strategies; create channels for workers to enter the country legally; and reduce the family reunification backlogs. While recognizing legitimate security concerns, we need not abandon our national tradition of hospitality to the persecuted and marginalized.

Family Unity: Our immigration system should value family unity and make it a central piece of the legislation. We need to improve our immigration laws to help families to be reunited in a timely manner and recognize the value that families bring to our communities.

Humane enforcement of immigration laws: The enforcement of immigration laws should respect human rights, treating migrants with dignity and humanely. We have seen the negative effects of harsh enforcement of immigration laws, such as raids and mass detention, which tear apart families and spread fear in our communities.

A legalization process that has integration as its goal: Comprehensive immigration reform should provide a path for undocumented immigrants to legalize their status; allowing millions to get out of the shadows and genuinely integrate into our communities

Important Facts about Immigrants:

The numbers: According to recent estimates by the Pew Hispanic Center, there are as many as 10-11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States of which two to three million are children. About 70% of the undocumented immigrant population has resided in the country for five years or more.

In the workforce: one in twenty in the U.S. workforce are immigrants and vulnerable to employers who seek unfair advantage over their competitors by not paying workers minimum wage or by ignoring labor rights protected by law. Studies show that legalization would likely improve wages for all workers and would help businesses that rely on seasonal workers.

At the borders: The present system has spawned a thriving market for smugglers and has generated chaos on the border, diverting resources away from protecting against genuine threats.

Immigration reform will allow more immigrants to come with a visa, not with a smuggler.

Paying taxes and Social Security: through their employers, unauthorized immigrants pay state and federal taxes, as well as Social Security and contribute to Medicare – including a net gain of $7 billion to the Social Security system each year.