U.S. Congressman Introduces Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Yesterday U.S. Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) introduced the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 (CIR ASAP). The video clip shows Representative Gutierrez introducing the proposed immigration law alongside members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Representative Gutierrez characterizes the proposed immigration law as (1) pro-family, (2) pro-jobs, and (3) pro-security. But one of the most important provisions, not mentioned in the video clip, is the Earned Legalization Program for the Undocumented. This provision would allow those undocumented persons, currently in the U.S., to apply for nonimmigrant visa status. To qualify, applicants would need to attest to their contributions to the U.S. through employment, education, military service, or volunteer work. Applicants would pay a $500 penalty fee, and would have to pass criminal and other background checks. After six years, applicants could apply for permanent resident status.

As an immigration lawyer who has seen many people with no immigration options, I applaud Representative Gutierrez for moving the immigration reform debate forwards. Many of the provisions in the proposed legislation (which I will elaborate upon in future postings) remedy legitimate problems in our current immigration system, and are simply the right thing to do. But in the video clip, Representative Gutierrez also quotes Ghandi for the proposition that there simply is no compromise on some fundamental matters. I truly hope that there can be compromise on this proposed immigration law so that we can move towards improving our current immigration system while promoting family unity, jobs, and border security. Potentially divisive issues, such as the earned legalization program, must be open for compromise in order to further the other beneficial provisions.

Immigration Reform / by Michelle Gee