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Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill Introduced

American Immigration Lawyers Association

06/23/11

WASHINGTON, DC - The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) welcomes the introduction of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2011 (CIR Act of 2011) by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Harry Reid (D-NV), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Charles Schumer (D-NY), John Kerry (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Patty Murray (D-WA). The bill is the first major immigration bill introduced in the 112th Congress. It includes fixes to the business and family visa systems and a required registration and legalization plan for the millions of undocumented living and working in the U.S. along with tough enforcement provisions such as increased border security, a mandatory employment verification system and stiffer penalties on illegal immigration.

"At a time when many are proposing nothing but enforcement, this bill helps bring our national debate on immigration back on track with a more balanced, workable plan," said Eleanor Pelta, President of AILA. "By combining enforcement with broad legalization and other key fixes, the CIR Act of 2011 addresses the most important concerns in our immigration system raised by relevant stakeholders. The bill sets stringent benchmark "triggers" that must be met before anyone can get a green card under the proposed legalization plan. It includes major increases in border patrol officers, worksite enforcement investigators, security measures on the borders, and surveillance technology, and raises the penalties for illegal entry. Finally, it also includes the DREAM Act, AgJobs, and other proposals that have drawn support from both sides of the aisle.

"Reform must be premised on making the immigration system actually work for America. The proposals for mandatory employment verification without any legalization plan for the millions of undocumented workers will do great harm to American businesses, workers and our economic recovery," said Pelta. "In the same way, extravagant spending on border patrol, fencing, and jails for detention will not address the glaring gap in adequate channels for people to come legally to the United States." AILA's framework includes a fair and effective program that secures our borders and the interior and creates a process to legalize current undocumented immigrants who meet strict eligibility requirements.

"The need for Congress to enact real immigration reform could not be any more urgent. Immigration reform would aid our economy and provide fairness to taxpayers, job creators, and families that now get hopelessly entangled in the dysfunctional system," said Pelta.