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Congressional introduction of immigration reform bill quickens the pulse on Capitol Hill

LatinaLista — Rep. Luis Gutierrez did something today that has him being hailed as a champion for immigration reform and probably being mumbled about in unflattering terms in the White House.


Rep. Gutierrez delivered on a promise he made to all the mixed-status families, undocumented immigrants and immigration advocate groups — he introduced in Congress the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity (CIR ASAP) Act of 2009.

Gutierrez garnered 87 co-sponsors for the bill including members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Black Caucus, Asian Pacific American Caucus, and Progressive Caucus.


Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) held a press conference to introduce the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act of 2009. (Photo Source:Immigration Impact)


While Gutierrez and advocates admit that immigration reform is on the backburner for the time being for the Obama Administration, at least until the healthcare bill passes, this bill lays the starting foundation from which to eventually craft a bill that will recognize the problems that exist in our current immigration policies and clarifies the issue of border security.

Like healthcare, immigration reform will be challenged by conservatives and liberals alike who don’t understand the day-to-day realities of over 12 million people — some parents to American-born children — who think our immigration problems can be fixed if people went back home and got in line and waited for their rightful turn.

If only it was that easy or true.

Some of the provisions of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 include:

Creates a Southern Border Security Task Force composed of federal, state, and local law enforcement officers to protect United States border cities and communities from violence and crime along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Improves collaboration with state law enforcement at the border in combating crime.

Suspends the Operation Streamline program pending review of the goals, impacts and cost-benefit analyses.

Recognizes the importance of border communities as partners and allies in achieving effective enforcement and establishes the U.S.-Mexico Border Enforcement Commission and the Border Communities Liaison Office.

Includes measures to combat human smuggling and migrant deaths including requiring the development and implementation of a plan to improve coordination amongst federal and state partners to combat human smuggling.

Establishes an independent immigration detention commission to investigate and report on compliance.

Requires DHS to report any detainee death within 48 hours, and to report annually to Congress on circumstances of all deaths in detention.

Provides temporary visas and work authorization for detained workers when they have been targeted by their employer for asserting their rights if they agree to pursue labor claims against their employer. Expands U visa protections for whistleblowers.

Repeals the 287(g) program and clarifies that only the federal government has the authority to enforce federal immigration law.

Restores the federal courts of their jurisdiction to review the decisions and practices of DHS.

Ensures that immediate relatives may continue to pursue their immigration petitions even if the U.S. citizen or LPR who petitioned for them dies.

The provisions are extensive and for anyone who thinks it’s just a way to open the door further for future undocumented immigrants — they’re wrong.

This bill addresses the issue that is paramount for any immigration reform bill to be effective — it provides for preventing future migrations.

To think that this bill will prevail against the basic human will of those people who will always feel they have no choice but to come illegally to the United States, is an illusion but this bill does recognize that unchecked migration into the country is not good for the United States nor the home country.

Hopefully, congressional opponents to illegal immigration will work with congressional supporters of the bill in good faith to create a policy that is effective and fair — without vilifying a people whose only crime is that they come here to work.

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  • laura
    December 16, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Dear Marisa, I’m not sure introduction of this bill was a wise move by Congressman Gutierrez.
    1. We see from President Obama’s maneuvering in health care reform that suffering US citizens are very far down on his list of priorities. At the top of his list are good relations with insurance corporations and big pharma. That is why any kind of public alternative has now been stripped from the bill the White House is promoting. Since this is the case, why would the White House care about suffering immigrant families?
    2. Health care also shows us what happens when good goals are part of a “comprehensive” bill. Bad things are packed into the bill and we are told that compromises are necessary. In the end, things are worse than before. For example, the Democratic leadership is pushing E-Verify and biometric IDs for everyone – all US citizes, everyone – as part of an immigration bill. Guestworker programs, which are a system of indentured servitude, will be pushed. If health care, which affects all US citizens, ends up producing a bill which is worse than what we have now – and that is what the fines for anyone not buying insurance from the for-profit corporations will be, without any public alternative – do we really believe immigration will fare better?
    3. We need to change the public discourse promoted by Democrats from “immigrants are probably criminals,” which is what Secretary Napolitano implies in all her press conferences and policy moves, to “immigrants are undocumented because there are no visas offered along with the hard, dirty, low-paid jobs offered to them by US businesses for decades.” Until the immigrants=criminals equation is rendered unacceptable, no decent reform will happen. The Basta Dobbs campaign showed that this is possible.
    4. with unemployment in the 10% (offical numbers) to 20% (estimates including people who gave up looking for work) range, why is this not a time Republicans will salivate over painting immigrants as stealing Americans’ jobs? Especially while the “criminal” meme is still acceptable in polite society?
    I think Representative Gutierrez should focus his good intentions on stopping the raids, closing down the detention centers, funding the processing of visas to end the backlogs, and ending 287G programs. Once that is accomplished, we can start talking about comprehensive reform.
    I am very afraid that what Mr. Gutierrez is doing now will make things much worse rather than better for 12 million people – and the 30 million who are their family members.

  • cookie
    December 17, 2009 at 9:57 am

    laura, apparently you haven’t read Gutierriez’s bill. I have and went over it with a tooth and comb. Much of what you are claiming is and isn’t in there you are incorrect about. Read it indepth for clarity.

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