Immigration Reform 2013

For more than 90 years the ACLU has defended the rights of all Americans, whether or not they are born in this country, because the Constitution protects the civil liberties and civil rights of all people. We are playing this critical role in the debate over national immigration reform.

An immigration reform bill introduced in April 2013 in the Senate (S. 744, Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013) has the potential to be a historic advance for the civil rights and liberties of immigrants and all Americans. If passed, it will put millions of immigrants who contribute every day to the vitality of our country on a road to citizenship.

Update: 06/24/13 - The ACLU announced its support of the Senate immigration reform bill.We support most of it—especially the path to citizenship—and we encourage senators to pass the bill with further changes that will improve its impact on civil liberties. Read more on ACLU's Blog of Rights.

While the bill is certainly a breakthrough, it is in need of many improvements that the ACLU will be fighting for as Congress deliberates. Following the ACLU’s framework for immigration reform, here are some of the positives and negatives of the bill:

The good

  • The bill, on top of its regular legalization provisions, offers DREAMers—those immigrants who came to the United States as children—a five-year path to lawful permanent residence and then citizenship.
  • The bill gives immigration judges some greater ability to consider cases on their individual merits.
  • The bill contains important reforms to improve the immigration detention and court system’s efficiency and fairness..

What the ACLU is working to improve

  • The bill contains severe obstacles for many immigrants who aspire to be citizens. The roadmap to citizenship automatically excludes too many people based on old or minor crimes, and based on employment and income tests at odds with the realities of our workforce.
  • The bill  requires billions of dollars in taxpayer money to be spent on unnecessary and wasteful border security, which will further degrade civil liberties at the border, and harm local communities’ quality of life.  Extravagant surveillance, including drones, excessive personnel, and intrusive checkpoints are mandated, even when prior security benchmarks have already been met and resources invested at the border are at an all-time high.
  • The bill requires a costly, insecure system to verify employment called E-Verify that puts citizens and authorized workers at risk of losing their jobs due to systematic errors and raises significant concerns about absent privacy protections necessary to guard against  identity theft.

This page will be updated as immigration reform continues to advance.

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