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Statement from NIJC Director of Policy Royce Bernstein Murray

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Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) appreciates President Obama’s continuing commitment to create an immigration system that will give 11 million immigrants—our neighbors, friends, classmates, family members, and colleagues—the opportunity to become U.S. citizens. We need an immigration system that provides a reasonable and efficient route to citizenship so that American families can stay together and people of all backgrounds and skills can help make our communities and economy strong. Our country can no longer sustain a system that forces people to endure years of limbo as they wait for visas or put themselves at risk by migrating prematurely when that wait is untenable. Our justice system is sagging under the weight of harsh laws and massive enforcement, resulting in hundreds of thousands of people in unnecessary detention. Men, women, and children face complex deportation proceedings that do not ensure access to lawyers or fair hearings.
Significantly, President Obama was not the only speaker tonight to support inclusive immigration laws. In his response on behalf of Tea Party Republicans, Senator Rand Paul called on the GOP to see “immigrants as assets, not liabilities.” We also appreciate Senator Mark Rubio’s outreach to the American public in both English and Spanish this evening and hope that the bipartisan immigration consensus he seeks to forge with the “Gang of Eight” will be equally inclusive. Proposals to hinge immigration reform on further enforcement efforts, however, are misguided, since the United States has already exceeded many of the enforcement benchmarks described in previous immigration overhaul efforts. 
NIJC urges Congress to seize the momentum on comprehensive reform and create an immigration system that America and American families deserve – one that upholds access to justice, respect for human rights, and family unity.