The Immigration Bill: An Historic First Step

by Community Change | April 17, 2013 12:00 am

The 844-page immigration reform bill released early this morning is a victory on many fronts.  Spokesperson for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) Kica Matos called it a “monumental achievement for our movement.”

To learn more about the specific provisions of the bill from Gang of 8 member Sen. Robert Menendez and to ask questions, join a community call tonight at 8pm ET.  Text LISTEN to 228466, and you will automatically receive a call this evening that will dial you in to this important national conversation. If you want to listen in Spanish, text ESCUCHA to 228466. The Spanish call will be held at 9pm ET.

The bill will provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of the undocumented immigrants living in the United States today and serves as an historic first step toward a more just immigration system.  But the bill is just that—a first step.  FIRM and its partner organizations will continue to work with Congress to make improvements on some of the weaker aspects of the bill.

The cutoff date, for instance, automatically prevents hundreds of thousands of families from becoming eligible for citizenship.  In addition, the 13-year path to citizenship is an unreasonable length of time and should be shortened considerably.

In a statement, Matos explains that FIRM also opposes all so-called “triggers,” saying, “Our families’ well-being should not be conditioned on arbitrary border measures or any political or bureaucratic process which holds their loved ones hostage to regulations over which they have no control.”

The current draft of the bill also fails to include important provisions about family unity, LGBT families, and the diversity visa program.  Immigrant-rights organizations around the country will continue to put pressure on Congress until these measures are made a priority.

Petra Falcon, Executive Director of immigrant-rights group Promise Arizona, said in a statement, “We’re not happy with everything in the bill, but we’re glad Congress is paving a path to citizenship for the undocumented, and we plan to continue to work diligently in the coming weeks to guarantee the final bill unites immigrant families and respects their enormous contributions to our society.”

The Florida Immigrant Coalition, Arizona Comprehensive Immigration Reform Coalition and the Alabama Immigration Advocates are among the groups that have already held press conferences in response to the newly-released bill, in which they reacted to the draft and outlined their next steps.

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