Senate Inaction On Comprehensive Immigration Reform: A Loss For America; A Win For No One

Posted on Fri, Jun 29, 2007 at 10:34 am

by Gideon Aronoff, President and CEO

HIAS – the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society – is extremely disappointed in the Senate’s failure to move forward with a comprehensive immigration bill that would have helped millions of immigrants and their families. Giving way to partisan politics, the Senate blocked an opportunity to change the status quo of illegality, exploitation, and human suffering. Instead of delivering a real solution, the Senate delivered a huge blow to making progress.

While we are deeply disappointed that so many of our elected officials chose to oppose moving forward with legislation that would have benefited so many hardworking immigrant families in this country and provided an orderly pathway for others to come, we applaud those Senators who voted to keep the debate alive, and therefore, the opportunity to improve the legislation in the House of Representatives. We commend those Senators for choosing leadership and courage to restore greatness to America’s tradition of being a welcoming nation.

HIAS has consistently urged Congress to adopt comprehensive immigration reform that: offers a path to citizenship to the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants living in the shadows; creates wider legal channels for future workers and worker protections; reunites families; and includes enforcement and border security measures that are meaningful, effective, and humane. Since the first Jewish immigrants arrived in America three hundred and fifty years ago, the Jewish community understands well what it means to come to this country to seek freedom and opportunity and be with family members. This generation of immigrants must not be denied that same opportunity.

The Jewish community also knows better than many that strong enforcement and border security policy is in our national interest and must be a priority. At the same time, the security of the United States can only be enhanced with comprehensive reform that combines effective and targeted enforcement policies with future worker and legalization programs that are workable and fair. Attempts to tighten enforcement while providing legal opportunities for the current undocumented immigrant population and future flows of immigrant workers will allow the best targeting of enforcement resources on those migrants who pose the greatest danger of terrorist or criminal connections rather than maintaining the current situation where immigration agents are forced to waste resources chasing busboys and nannies. It is also critical that our approach to enforcement must be one that respects the dignity of human rights and life.

HIAS will continue to make this a high priority and push for comprehensive immigration reform that will, once and for all, repair our broken system in way that our nation wants and deserves. Without action from our elected officials in Congress, we are left with the status quo of migrant deaths in the desert, sweeping raids in the workplace that separate families and displace essential workers, prolonged waits for family reunification, and a chaotic and inhumane immigration and enforcement policy. This is not the answer. And to be sure, today’s status quo will not be tomorrow’s. With each day that passes without comprehensive immigration reform, the status quo will worsen. More families will be kept apart. More immigrants will be desperate to come to this country without safety. More immigrants will live with fear and without the opportunity to become a part of American society. We call on Congress and the Administration to put aside politics and do what’s right for this country. We must continue toward a solution that is practical and fair.