Bill’s narrow path to citizenship still sustains human rights hardships
CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE — The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) finds the Senate immigration bill passed today “offers much less than it should, and at great sacrifice to quality of life for all US residents.”
The bill creates a narrow path to citizenship for some immigrants and makes modest progress on some worker rights issues, the Quaker organization said. “But the dramatic expansion of current failed policies make it a far cry from the just and humane reforms that immigrant communities, faith, labor and advocacy groups have been calling for,” commented staff for the organization’s New Hampshire Program.
“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 complex – meaning billions for the contractors and continuing crises for people on both sides of the border,” said Maggie Fogarty, who coordinates the AFSC’s New Hampshire Economic Justice Project.
“The path to legalization is a precarious one, likely to leave many people behind,” commented Arnie Alpert, AFSC’s New Hampshire Coordinator. Under the terms of the Senate bill, many commonplace situations—such as a period greater than 60 days of unemployment during the ten year provisional period—will make immigrants ineligible for Legal Permanent Residency, he said.
“Making the highly flawed E-Verify system a requirement for all employers is a recipe for further exploitation and marginalization of immigrant workers and people of color,” said Fogarty, who coordinates AFSC’s national Campaign for Humane Immigration Policies.
Fogarty also noted that the bill’s original provisions for border militarization and other enforcement programs were “already excessive.” Despite hearing directly from border communities about the impacts of living in a militarized area, Senate amendments added more money for “‘border security’ measures that will make border communities less secure,” she added.
With the immigration debate shifting to the House of Representatives, the AFSC implores Representatives to adopt compassionate, effective immigration policies, 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 detailed 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.
From its origins working with civilians affected by war in Europe during World War One, AFSC has decades of experience working with people who have left their homes due to violence, discrimination, and economic desperation.
For more on AFSC’s immigrant rights work, visit http://afsc.org/project/immigrant-rights and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.