ACLU Says Roadmap to Citizenship Must Protect Civil Liberties

January 28, 2013 9:31 am

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WASHINGTON – The framework released by the “Gang of Eight” rightly includes the creation of a roadmap to citizenship, but also includes provisions that endanger everyone’s civil liberties and do nothing to reverse the recent extraordinary and unwarranted increase in wasteful spending on border security.

Roadmap to Citizenship. “The Gang of Eight deserves praise for outlining a roadmap for the 11 million people who have become a part of the American fabric, and aspire to become citizens, but currently have no way to attain legalized status,” said Laura Murphy, Director of ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office. “These aspiring citizens are productive members of their communities, but their contributions to American life are subject to exploitation by employers and constant fear brought on by their undocumented status. Fundamental fairness, as guaranteed by the Constitution, requires that they be brought within the legal embrace of U.S. citizenship. We also commend the principles for their commitment to address the systemic racial profiling and the use of excessive force that now characterizes immigration and border enforcement.”

“The Gang’s plan is the beginning, not the end, of the discussion on immigration reform,” said Joanne Lin, ACLU legislative counsel. “We urge the passage of a roadmap that is just, humane, and fair, without exclusions for minor crimes or past removal orders, and unobstructed by prohibitive fees or penalties. Forcing the separation of families and the abandonment of children is contrary to American values and our national interest.”

E-Verify. The following statement can be attributed to Chris Calabrese, ACLU legislative counsel:

“The outline’s call for employers to be mandated to use E-Verify, an expensive electronic employment-verification system, is a thinly-disguised national ID requirement that undermines the privacy of every American worker while imposing new burdens on businesses. Mandatory E-Verify would not only lead to discrimination against those who look or sound “foreign,” but also increase the risk of identity theft and make it harder to get a job.”

Border Security. The following statement can be attributed to Vicki B. Gaubeca, Director of ACLU of New Mexico Regional Center for Border Rights:

“While the plan released by the Gang of Eight provides a roadmap to citizenship that is encouraging, this progress should not be contingent upon more border enforcement. Already, there are almost 10 Border Patrol agents per mile along the U.S.-Mexico border—if lined up from San Diego to Brownsville they could see each other. This is on top of all the other federal agents deployed at the border, more than 650 miles of border fencing, and drones patrolling our skies, among other technologies.

“Since 2007, we have seen border enforcement on steroids. The fact is, there is a 40-year low in migrant apprehensions at the border, and border communities are safer than ever. Reform must downsize wasteful and unnecessary spending on the border.

“The 2012 election was a game-changer, not only in terms of demanding a roadmap to citizenship for new Americans, but also for demanding sanity be restored to our border enforcement efforts.”

ACLU Framework. As President Obama and Congress take up immigration reform, the ACLU has developed a framework and urges policymakers to promote the priorities contained therein in any proposals. The framework is available here.

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