AJC REPAIR Statement

AJC Statement

May 13, 2010

Arizona’s recent enactment of a harsh immigration law that opens the door to racial profiling— accompanied by indications that additional states are considering similar action on similar initiatives— underscores the need for comprehensive, bipartisan federal legislation creating an effective immigration system characterized by the rule of law and the humane treatment of immigrants.

Against that background, the American Jewish Committee is encouraged by an emerging immigration proposal—the Real Enforcement with Practical Answers for Immigration Reform (REPAIR) Act—the broad outlines of which have been put on the table by the Democratic leadership. Recognizing that bipartisan support has been, and remains, a sine qua non of immigration reform, this initiative provides a path forward for both political parties to come together in developing and enacting an urgently needed federal fix.

While AJC must await further specifics of the REPAIR proposal—hopefully accompanied by bipartisan support—to decide on endorsement of the measure, the initiative conceptually takes the appropriate approach by including provisions directed at an earned pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants; reduction of long delays currently experienced by immigrants awaiting family reunification; special protections for refugees, children seeking asylum, and other vulnerable populations; and more effective border security and enforcement measures that will bolster our national security.

For more than a century, AJC has been a vocal advocate for a generous and humane immigration system that is also effective and enforceable. A comprehensive approach—and certainly not a patchwork of constitutionally problematic state laws—is the only effective way to fix our flawed system and protect our homeland security. There are millions of people currently living in the shadows throughout the United States, unable to gain full access to fundamental needs such as health care and education. Moreover, the fact that we do not know who is entering, and has entered, our country poses obvious security risks. Mass deportations of the undocumented population must be rejected out of hand—such actions would violate family unification principles, fail to address security concerns, and run counter to the values of American society.

AJC applauds the Democratic leaders who developed the REPAIR proposal and their desire to resolve the problems with our current immigration system. However, it remains as critical as ever that comprehensive immigration reform legislation be bipartisan. We are committed to working with Congress to reform our immigration system in a manner that treats immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in a fair, sensible, and safe fashion while addressing national security concerns.

Respectfully,

Richard T. Foltin, Esq.
Director of National and Legislative Affairs