FIRM's response to Kennedy/Bush Deal (Including Electronic audio file of Kennedy's press conference yesterday)

Say it again: No Families, NO DEAL! Guestworker, NO DEAL! For Immediate Release Date: May 17, 2007Immigrant Community Leaders React to the Kennedy/White House Immigration Proposal Statement of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (Washington, DC) - As Senate leaders and the White House announced a deal on immigration reform, grassroots community shared their views on the proposal which would grant legal status to millions but would end family migration policy and create a new permanent underclass of workers in America.  Immigrant community leaders held a press teleconference to share their views and released the statement below:

To listen to a recording of the press teleconference, click below: --Enter your filename 1090167May17.ra --Enter your password qA8cI0kB7 --Press Continue --Once the password has been verified, click the Download Here link and save your file. --Click here for the press advisory for a list of speakers <>Statement of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement:"The immigration deal struck by a bipartisan group of senators and the White House responds to the demands of the immigrant rights movement for a path to citizenship for undocumented workers now in the U.S., but its provisions on future migration to the United States are immoral, unworkable and unacceptable.  While the proposal appears to include an important path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, recognizing their work and contribution to America, we find the elimination of the family immigration system, the creation of a new temporary worker program that would create a permanent underclass of workers with few rights and no ability to become citizens, and the limitations on due process to be anti-family, anti-worker and fundamentally un-American.

"As one of the largest grassroots coalitions of immigrant rights and community organizations in the country, the Fair Immigrant Rights Movement (FIRM) believes the following principles must guide legislative consideration of this and other proposals:  simple and broad legalization for undocumented workers and families; strong worker protections and a path to citizenship for future immigrant workers; family reunification by maintaining the current family preference categories; preservation of due process and civil rights; and fair treatment of students and agricultural workers as embodied in the DREAM Act and AgJobs legislation.  We will be continuing to pressure Congress to adopt humane immigration legislation that is consistent with these principles, and we are prepared to vigorously oppose legislation that is inconsistent with our values.

"We are deeply troubled by two reported aspects of the deal as we understand it.

"First, the architecture of the deal includes appalling provisions driven by Republican Senators that would fundamentally undo the family immigration system created in the 1965 immigration bill; opening the doors to millions of working class people and people of color. This proposal would replace that system with a "rich man's immigration system" that would shift immigrant preference to high-skilled, English speaking people, and deny American citizens and immigrants the opportunity to bring loved family members into this nation. This is a violation of a fundamental, longstanding principle of American immigration policy, and of real family values.  We hope that Senators recognize that many of them would not be in this country under the immigration system proposed in the deal.

"Second, the deal would not allow for a path to citizenship for future 'guestworkers' thereby creating a two tier labor market that could undermine worker protections for all Americans.  Such an approach would recreate problems of the disastrous bracero program, depress wages and working conditions for U.S. workers, and would be fundamentally inconsistent with American values of fair play and equal treatment.

"If these provisions are not fixed, this Congress will repeat the mistakes of past immigrant legislation that has created today's humanitarian crisis with unconscionable family backlogs, thousands dying at the borders and U.S. citizen children been torn apart from their parents. FIRM will stand strongly behind its principles for reform and will oppose any legislation that fundamentally undermines them.

"These family and worker provisions must be fixed in any final comprehensive immigration reform bill.  FIRM will fight to make these improvements.  The immigrant rights movement, like the congressional immigration debate, is only just getting started."


*       Cheryl Aguilar, 202-360-7867  *       Adam Luna, 202-486-3020