Originally published as a January 2, 2010 webcomic for Everyday Citizen
A few weeks ago a friend sent me an email about a bill that is going through the House of Representatives that will try to start the ball rolling on immigration reform. On December 15, 2009 Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) introduced the H.R. 4321, Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 with the support of Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Black Caucus, Asian Pacific American Caucus and Progressive Caucus. According to a summary prepared by the House, here are some things that the Gutierrez bill offers:
It would provide greater security for American border cities and communities from violence along the U.S.-Mexico border by creating a Southern Border Security Task Force made up of federal, state and local law enforcement officers. It would also expand programs under the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism in accordance with the SAFE Port Act.
It would provide a legalization program for qualified undocumented immigrants (and their spouses and children) who would first receive a conditional non-immigrant visa which is valid for six years, after which they could apply for legal permanent residence and eventually become U.S. citizens.
It would promote family unity through measures designed to keep U.S. families together. It would ensure protections for parents in detention centers to promote access to their children.
It would reform the legal immigration system and creating new legal channels through the Prevent Unauthorized Migration Visa (PUM Visa) that seeks to provide for safe, humanitarian migration. This would include visa reform to decrease the backlog of unused employment-based visas and retain workers subject to a green card backlog. The bill reforms temporary worker programs and includes measures to protect U.S. workers.
It would improve conditions of detention centers, and to protect U.S. citizens, LPRs, and vulnerable populations.
The Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., the legal arm of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, commended Gutierrez’s immigration reform bill as being a workable framework for the overhaul of our nation’s immigration system.
The Catholic Worker, a strong supporter of immigrant rights, had a good article by Jim Reagan in their December 2009 edition on the poor that are suffering in these hard economic times. In the course of his article, he had a great insight into the dilemma that many illegal immigrants face. Reagan wrote:
“In the past decade, during the period of our rosy economy, we all but invited undocumented workers to come and do the tasks that we didn’t want to do, or didn’t want to pay someone a fair wage to do. In frivolous moments, I like to imagine our land without undocumented immigrants: restaurants with unwashed dishes stacked on tables, overgrown suburban lawns and hedges straying wildly from their appointed course. The problems faced by our brothers and sisters from other nations, however, are serious, numerous, and immediate. Many people, some with whom I’ve worked in the New Sanctuary Movement, are in imminent danger of being deported. And misinformation and misconceptions about immigrants taking from the system without contributing to it only confuse an issue that is not simple to begin with.”
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