ACLU of California Responds to Gang of 8 Immigration Plan
The ACLU of California welcomes the federal comprehensive immigration reform bill announced late Tuesday night by the Senate Gang of 8. This historic bill has the potential to advance the civil rights and liberties of all Californians and to set the stage for a roadmap to citizenship for the nearly 2.6 million undocumented immigrants who currently live in our state.
From the lumber mills of Ukiah to the farmlands of the Central Valley to the factories along the San Ysidro border, immigrants contribute greatly to California's quality of life, culture and economy. Our state is home the nearly a quarter of the nation's immigrants, and one in ten workers in our state is undocumented. All Californians will benefit immigration reforms that will lift up our economy by promoting trade, agri-business, and technological innovation, and uphold our constitutional values.
While this legislation is timely and is a good starting place, it will have to be improved to address severe obstacles for many aspiring citizens, many of whom live in our state. Hundreds of thousands of immigrants in California could be left out of this historic reform simply because of hefty fines and application fees. This would leave them vulnerable to continued mass deportation and detention programs such as the controversial program "S-Comm." More than 90,000 Californians have already been torn from their families and deported as a result of S-Comm, accounting for the highest number of deportations in the nation.
Fair and effective immigration reform demands that we eliminate the contradiction of continuing to deport the people today who would otherwise become citizens tomorrow. The ACLU of California will continue to offer improvements to the current bill, and to champion model state-level bills like the TRUST Act (AB 4) that will end the harmful impact that occurs daily in tens of thousands of California families, communities, and businesses because of S-Comm.
The ACLU of California also questions the proposal to expand wasteful border spending at a time when law enforcement leaders from the Department of Homeland Security down to the San Diego Sheriff declare that our border communities are safe. Enforcement resources are already at record levels, and prior security benchmarks have all been met or exceeded. Furthermore, the mandate to use the job-killing, costly and privacy-invasive employment verification system "E-verify" raises significant civil liberties concerns that will have an outsized impact in a state where immigrants make 34.6% of the state's workforce.
ACLU and Immigration:
The ACLU has defended the rights of the immigrants since its inception in 1920. In addition to advocating for a common-sense federal immigration plan, the ACLU has helped block most parts of the Arizona-style anti-immigrant laws, advocates against inhumane and abusive detention and deportation practices and continues to highlight a range of problems such as E-Verify.
Earlier, the ACLU released a framework for immigration reform, which urges policymakers to include critical priorities in order to ensure people's civil rights and liberties are protected. Leer en español »
Abdi Soltani is the Executive Director of the ACLU of Northern California.