As the media have widely reported, President Obama is meeting with Congressional leaders today to discuss immigration reform. Here is a letter from National Latino Congreso urging the President to move forward on reform.
National Latino Congreso
“Immigration policy should be generous; it should be fair; it should be flexible. With such a policy we can turn to the world and to our own past, with clean hands and a clear conscience.”
President John F. Kennedy, A Nation of Immigrants
June 24, 2009
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
Honorable President Obama,
We, the undersigned organizations, representing thousands of immigrant families, write to commend you for meeting with Congressional leaders to discuss prospects for immigration policy reform. We urge you to tackle this issue swiftly and substantively.
We understand how difficult it is to undertake the task of reforming our deeply broken, inhumane and wasteful immigration policy of today. However, we believe that it is critical that a responsible solution be enacted both promptly and thoughtfully. In this regard, we urge you to make sure that the following be included in an immigration reform agenda:
1. A mandate to fully process all legal permanent residency and naturalization applications within six months from date of filing.
2. The creation of a federal immigrant integration policy dedicated to support local and state governments in managing the challenges of changing demographics as a result of migration.
3. The creation of a totally new adjustment of status program designed to allow all undocumented immigrants already residing in the U.S. to apply for legal permanent residency status in an expeditious and fair manner.
In the very immediate term, we encourage you to continue to take administrative actions that will provide relief to immigrant communities as well as peace of mind to employers who depend on immigrant workers. Specifically, we urge you once again to use your executive authority to do the following:
1. Suspend all work-place and residential raids which are solely motivated by the mere suspicion of a lack of immigration status.
2. Stop the sending of so called “Social Security No Match Letters,” which have been used by employers to unfairly subjugate immigrant workers and dissuade them from asserting workplace rights.
3. Terminate all existing cooperative agreements on immigration policy enforcement between ICE and local law enforcement agencies.
While we believe that thorough and profound changes in immigration reform are urgently needed, we also encourage you to actively support the passage of limited scope legislative reform initiatives intended to fix specific areas of our current immigration policy framework that contribute to ensuring the stability, integrity and unity of families. In our opinion, advancement on pieces of limited-scope legislation does not contradict advancement towards truly new immigration policy architecture.
We are leaders of Latino and immigrant-led community based organizations that are dedicated to serving and advocating for immigrant communities and committed to restoring due process and civil rights for everyone in our society. The role of immigrants and immigration policy continue to be very contentious topics in our country, largely due to the fact that these issues have been taken hostage by political forces propelled by racism and xenophobia who blame immigrants for all of the social and economic ills that millions of U.S. households have been experiencing over the past few decades.
We recognize that the source of most Americans’ dwindling quality of life is not immigration but the dismantling of the social contract between government and its citizens and the implementation of an economic model that has concentrated wealth into fewer hands. Given this context, we believe you have a decisive role to play in order to move us all towards a new national framework inspired by rationality, humanity, and justice. In our opinion, these are values that have been missing so far from our national policy and legislative deliberation about immigrants and immigration policy reform.
In times when we are tempted to turn against immigrant communities, as we have been doing since at least the early 1990’s, we have to remind ourselves of the basic promises of our nation. The forever relevant words in our declaration of independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (and women) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” must be kept in mind now more than ever. Unfortunately, given the way we have treated immigrant communities in recent years, it is clear that many of our so called leaders have forgotten about the foundational values of our nation.
The lack of political will to reform our broken immigration policy in a way that is in sync with our tradition as a nation of immigrants, as well as with the interconnected world in which we now live, has led to a countless number of abuses against immigrants, particularly against Mexican and other Latin American immigrants. The sooner we can count on a new, truly inclusive, humane, visionary and functional U.S. immigration law; the sooner we will begin to correct the conditions that fuel anti-immigrant sentiments throughout the country.
Finally, we would like you to keep in mind that while conventional wisdom considers immigration as a domestic policy issue, it is an area of public policy deeply affected by events outside our borders. In the case of Mexico, Central American and Caribbean countries, and the rest of Latin America, the profound social and economic asymmetries that exist between them and the United States of America, continue to be leading factors that push millions of people towards emigration. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind the urgent need to combine public policy responses in the area of immigration with brand new policy initiatives in the area of international trade and economic development. By simultaneously moving forward in these two fronts, we will eventually bring about a humane equilibrium between domestic immigration policy and international migration.
We thank you again for taking leadership to reform immigration policy and for taking into consideration the views of the Latino immigrant community. We look forward to working with you to move ahead with just, humane and realistic immigration reform as soon as possible.
America Para Todos, Houston, TX
Asociacion Guatemalteca Americana, Miami, FL
Agencia ALPHA, Boston, MA
Asociation of Mexicans in North Carolina, Greenville, NC
Asociacion Salvadorena en los EUA, Houston, TX
Association of Salvadorans in Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Bay Area Guatemalan Action, Oakland, CA
Brazilian Immigrant Center, Allston, MA
CARECEN, Los Angeles, CA
CARECEN, San Francisco, CA
Casa Guanajuato, Chicago, IL
Casa Para Inmigrantes Mary Johanna, Hempstead, NY
Comite Centromericano de Emergencia, Revere, MA
Centro Guatemalteco Tecun Uman, Brooklyn, MA
Centro Hispano Cuzcatlan, Queens, NY
Centro Presente, Somerville, MA
Centro Romero, Chicago, IL
Chelsea Collaborative, Chelsea, MA
Club Francisco Villa, Chicago, IL
Club Leon Cardenas, Chicago, IL
Club Taji Ciudad Hidalgo, Chicago, IL
Club Morelia, Chicago, IL
Coalicion por los Derechos y Dignidad de los Inmigrantes, Cincinnati, OH
Comite Bolivariano, Chicago, IL
Comunidad Garifuna Guatemalteca, Bronx, NY
Comite Guatemalteco de Justicia y Paz, Cincinnati, OH
Comite de Unidad Guatemalteco de Nevada, Las Vegas, NE
Comite en Union de Salvadorenos, Newark, NJ
CONAFRAGUA, Bronx, NY
Confederation of Mexican Federations, Cicero, IL
Coalicion de Organizaciones Guatemaltecas, Miami, FL
CRECEN, Houston, TX
Dominican Development Center, Roslindale, MA
Durango Unido en Chicago, Chicago, IL
Erie Neighborhood House, Chicago, IL
Federacion de Clubes Michoacanos en Illinois, Chicago, IL
Federacion de Clubes Unidos Zacatecanos, Chicago, IL
Federacion de Clubes Zacatecanos del Sur de California, Los Angeles, CA
Federacion de Clubes Guerrerences en Illinois, Chicago, IL
Fundacion Jalisco U.S.A., Los Angeles, CA
International Migrants’ Development Fund, Washington, DC
Familias Inmigrantes y Estudiantes en Lucha, Houston, TX
Florida Immigrant Coalition, Miami, FL
Federacion de Oaxaquenos de Medio Oeste, Racine, WI
Fundacion Salvadorena de Florida, Miami, FL
Guatemalan Association of Latin America, Miami, FL
Garifuna Heritage Center for Arts and Culture, Bronx, NY
Grupo Cajola, Morristown, NJ
Grupo Cultural Garifuna, Bronx, NY
Guatemalecos Unidos para el Desarrollo, Palisades Park, NJ
Guatemalan Unity Information Agency, Miami, FL
Guatemalan Unity Information Agency, Los Angeles, CA
HADAS, Houston, TX
Heartland Workers Center, Omaha, NE
Hermandad Mexicana, Panorama City, CA
Hermandad Mexicana, Oxnard, CA
Hermandad Mexicana, San Diego, CA
Hermandad Mexicana, Las Vegas, NV
Hondurenos contra el SIDA, Bronx, NY
La Comunidad, Inc., Everette, MA
La Voz de Guatemala en New Brunswick, Highland Park, NJ
La Voz de los Abajo, Chicago, IL
Latinos Progresando, Chicago, IL
Latinos Unidos de Massachusetts, Everette, MA
Latino Policy Forum, Chicago, IL
Mexicanos Sin Fronteras, Manassas, VA
Movimiento de Inmigrantes Guatemaltecos en los EE.UU., Chicago, IL
Mujeres Latinas en Accion, Chicago, IL
Mundo Maya Foundation, Los Angeles, CA
Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, New York, NY
Organizacion Negra de Centro America, Bronx, NY
Organizacion Guatemalteca Maya Quetzal, West Palm Beach, CA
Proyecto Hondureno, Boston, MA
Raices de Nuestros Ancestros, Bronx, NY
Red Por La Paz y el Desarrollo en Guatemala, New York, NY
Salvadoran-American National Network, San Francisco, CA
Solidaridad Humana, Hempstead, NY
Voces de la Frontera, Milwaukee, WI
Salud Latina/Latino Health, Chicago, IL