April 17, 2013 – Washington – AJC applauds introduction in the U.S. Senate of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (S.744). This bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform legislation offers a roadmap to citizenship for 11 million prospective new Americans.
“The sponsoring Senators have recognized the key role of immigrants in bolstering America's economic strength and democratic pluralism,” said Richard Foltin, AJC Director of National and Legislative Affairs. “AJC looks forward to working with Congress as this legislation moves forward, and to ultimately enacting legislation that will permanently fix America’s broken immigration system.”
The proposed bill creates a much-needed path to earned citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the United States, offers critical reforms to the legal immigration process, and includes measures that will strengthen national security.
AJC finds the proposed reforms to the family and employment visa categories encouraging, and looks forward to continuing to improve these legal immigration categories in the bill. “Just as we, as Americans, have been able to build our lives alongside our brothers, sisters and children, we must preserve that opportunity for new Americans today,” said Foltin. But he expressed concern over proposed cuts to the visa categories for siblings and married adult children over the age of 31 who seek to reunite with their families.
”Regardless of their age or marital status, siblings and children are integral to the American family unit,” said Foltin. “Allowing immigrant families to more easily reunite with their loved ones will enhance a strong social fabric in our communities.”
Foltin praised the bill’s provisions for employment visa categories, saying “they will help to ensure that American businesses have access to labor with needed skill sets to compete in a global economy.” The proposed measure would make it easier for high- and low-skilled immigrant workers to come to the U.S., as well as establish a viable program for temporary immigrant workers and foreign graduate students in science, technology, engineering and math.
While endorsing the need for immigration reform legislation to address issues of border security and enforcement, Foltin cautioned that enforcement enhancements should not hinder the path to legalization for those currently living in the shadows. The bill includes two stages of enforcement and border security operations, and benchmarks that must first be met before eligible individuals would be permitted to adjust their status to become permanent residents and, ultimately, U.S. citizens.
“There is no reason to link a pathway to earned citizenship for hardworking immigrants already living in the United States to border security benchmarks,” Foltin said.
Since its founding in 1906, AJC has been outspoken in support of fair and generous immigration policies, characterized by the rule of law. As American Jews, we recall how our parents and grandparents made their way to this country seeking a better life, and know that we have prospered in and contributed to this country. That same opportunity should be available for others.
Comprehensive immigration reform will strengthen America’s global competitiveness and enhance our national security, as well as allow hard-working immigrants an opportunity to succeed in the United States, for themselves and for future generations.