In response to President Obama's remarks today regarding his proposal for immigration reform, Heartland Alliance's National Immigrant Justice Center Director Mary Meg McCarthy issued the following statement:
"Today, President Obama evoked the legacy of the many immigrants who helped build this country, recognizing not only that we are a nation of immigrants, but that immigrants - including the 11 million people currently here without papers - are integral to our nation. We are hopeful that the president will uphold the commitment he has made to ensure that Congress creates a new immigration system that allows people a workable pathway to legal residence and citizenship. He must make sure that the men, women, and students he spoke about - those who who have lived here for years and worked, raised their families, and contributed to our society - are not excluded or penalized by an overly restrictive visa system.
"We are concerned that the president continues to promote the idea that increased border security is still necessary for effective reform. We have seen too many families torn apart and too many lives ruined as the result of an overzealous immigration enforcement regime since the president took office. We need Congress and the president to commit to measures that protect the human rights of those who become entangled in the immigration system, and to end the use of abusive enforcement and detention practices. Denying basic rights to immigrants and refugees within our borders threatens our historic commitment to justice and fairness. Protecting the border and protecting basic rights are not mutually exclusive."
Yesterday, NIJC laid out its five principles for immigration reform in response to a separate proposal released by a bipartisan group of senators. NIJC will work to see that these priorities are included in the creation of an immigration system that respects America's history as a nation built by immigrants and on a foundation of justice.