Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 12032760 (posted Apr. 22, 2014)"
America is a nation of values, founded on the idea that all people are created equal and that all people have rights, no matter what they look like or where they came from. The way we enforce our immigration laws should reflect our commitment to these values. Both our laws and our enforcement policies should be grounded in civil and human rights and ensure due process, equal treatment, and fairness.
Immigration Reform 2014
AILA Press Statements
Resources and Talking Points
Additional Resources on: Courts, Detention, Border, Worksite Enforcement, and Secure Communities & Detainers
Immigration Reform 2014
Debate about interior enforcement has always been contentious. But any common sense broad reform will fundamentally change the nature of that debate. Reform that includes these three elements - a smart and balanced E-Verify system, a legalization plan for the undocumented, and a more robust legal immigration system for the future - will dramatically reduce the number of those living in the United States without status, making a large build-up of interior enforcement an unnecessary and costly investment.
The House of Representatives - The SAFE Act (AILA Doc. No. 13060654.)
In June 2013, the Judiciary Committee in the House of Representatives successfully voted H.R. 2278, the "Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act" (the SAFE Act), out of committee on a party line 20-15 vote. (AILA Doc. No. 13060654.) AILA strongly opposes the SAFE Act because it would criminalize undocumented immigrants, give states and cities authority to enact their own immigration laws, inflate an already costly detention and enforcement apparatus, and perpetuate the failures of the existing system. As bipartisan reform moves forward in both chambers, AILA urges Congress to enact the best possible law that meets our nation's needs, protects civil and human rights, and ensures due process.
The Senate - The "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act" (AILA Doc. No. 13041760.)
In June 2013, the Senate passed S.744, a comprehensive immigration reform bill that provides a common sense pathway to citizenship for the undocumented with strict provisions on crimes, inadmissibility, deportability, and national security. AILA opposed the inclusion of many of these provisions because they will have harsh consequences and will exclude deserving individuals from legalization or from ever obtaining legal status. Any further tightening of these exclusion grounds would greatly erode due process and undermine the bill's purpose of bringing families and individuals out of the shadows.
The Senate immigration bill also establishes stringent criteria that will bar many individuals from obtaining Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status or a green card. To balance these requirements, S.744 grants limited authority to immigration judges and agency officials to consider the facts in certain cases where a person does not automatically qualify and to exercise discretion if the person can show strong equities in his or her favor.
Administrative Reform 2014
On March 13, 2014 President Obama called for a review of the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) enforcement practices. AILA urges DHS to implement meaningful administrative reforms while Congress works to pass a reform bill.
Enforcement is Happening
The facts show that enforcement is happening, and has been happening, at record rates. Immigration enforcement efforts of the past decade, under both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, have been aggressive. At the same time that the number of individuals crossing our borders has sharply declined and net migration is near zero, the number of removals, detentions, and criminal prosecutions for immigration offenses have broken records, as has federal funding for these programs.
- Criminal prosecutions for immigration violations reached an all-time high of nearly 100,000 in FY2013. Illegal re-entry alone is the most prosecuted crime in America, jumping 76% during the Obama Administration. (source: Trac Immigration).
- In just over two years-between July 1, 2010 and September 31, 2012-DHS deported 204,810 parents of U.S. citizens, amounting to nearly 23 percent of all deportations. More than 1 in every 5 people deported is the parent of a U.S. citizen. (source: Colorlines.com)
The Story Behind Deportation Numbers
In spring 2014, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will hit the two million mark in removals of the undocumented—the highest removal rate of any administration. This has prompted some immigration advocates to proclaim him the “deporter-in-chief” for pursuing enforcement so aggressively. At the same time, some claim that President Obama is deporting fewer people and is failing to enforce immigration law. AILA provides resources to understand the story behind the numbers.
AILA Press Statements & Correspondence
- “Immigration Enforcement in the United States: The Rise of a Formidable Machinery," a report from Migration Policy Institute (1/2013)
- “The Math of Immigration Detention,” a report from the National Immigration Forum (8/2013)
- "Misplaced Priorities: Most Immigrants Deported by ICE in 2013 Were a Threat to No One," a report from the Immigration Policy Center (3/28/2014)
- "Immigration Enforcement Actions: 2012," the Annual Report of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
- "Who Should Be Deported," an op-ed from former Acting ICE Director John Sandweg in the LA Times
- TRAC Immigration
- "The Rise of Federal Immigration Crimes," a report from the Pew Research Center (3/18/2014)
- "The Fallacy of 'Enforcement First,'" a report from the Immigration Policy Center (5/9/13)
- "Turning Migrants into Criminals: The Harmful Impact of US Border Prosecutions," a report from Human Rights Watch (5/22/13)
- "Two Systems of Justice: How the Immigration System Falls Short of American Ideals of Justice," a report from the Immigration Policy Center. (3/19/2013)
- "A Decade of Rising Immigration Enforcement," a report from the Immigration Policy Center. (01/08/2013)
A fair and functioning court system is essential to ensuring due process. Currently, the immigration court system is plagued by a lack of funding.
This year, the U.S. government will detain 34,000 immigrants per day at a cost of over $2 billion to American taxpayers -a figure not based on demonstrated need. ICE has all the tools it needs to safely release thousands of individuals it chooses to hold in detention.
In recent years increasing amounts of money have been poured into the protection of the border region--the necessity of these escalating costs is questionable, especially when considering that apprehensions at the border are at their lowest in 40 years.
Worksite Enforcement & E-Verify
Currently there are an estimated 8 million undocumented workers in the country --if these undocumented workers suddenly leave the workforce, our country would face significant, possibly devastating, economic consequences
Secure Communities and Detainers
Key to this administration's strategy has been programs that partner with local law enforcement (such as Secure Communities) and the civil immigration detainers on which they rely. These programs have come under attack due to their negative impact on community policing, susceptibility to racial profiling, and their indiscriminate approach to immigration enforcement.