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National Immigrant Solidarity Network
No Immigrant Bashing! Support Immigrant Rights!

Los Angeles: (213)403-0131
New York: (212)330-8172
Washington DC: (202)595-8990

The National Immigrant Solidarity Network (NISN) is a coalition of immigrant rights, labor, human rights, religious, and student activist organizations from across the country. We work with leading immigrant rights, students and labor groups. In solidarity with their campaigns, and organize community immigrant rights education campaigns.

From legislative letter-writing campaigns to speaker bureaus and educational materials, we organize critical immigrant-worker campaigns that are moving toward justice for all immigrants!

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FINAL DRAFT, March 9, 2007

Dear President Bush and Members of Congress,

As the debate on immigration reform begins in earnest in the 110th Congress, the
undersigned organizations urge you in the strongest possible terms to enact workable
comprehensive immigration reform this year. Our message is simple: get it done, do it
right, and make it work.

Immigrant workers and families are desperate for real reform, as are American workers who
want a level playing field and decent employers who want a legal workforce. State and local
governments are frustrated that politicians in Washington produce more talk than action on
a priority only federal policy makers can realistically address. The public is tired of partisan
posturing and finger pointing. They want their leaders to lead, to solve tough problems on a
bipartisan basis, and to produce results, not excuses.

Workable comprehensive immigration reform is the solution. Enforcement-only efforts
have not worked in the past and will not work in the future. Rounding up or attempting to
force out 12 million undocumented immigrants is neither feasible nor desirable. Most
undocumented immigrants live in families, most have been here for more than five years,
and as workers they fill one out of every 20 jobs in the United States. Fixing our broken
immigration system requires a broader approach, a strategy that aims to replace an
unregulated, chaotic, and abusive system with a controlled, limited, and legal system.

Attached are principles that have long guided our work. These will continue to serve as
our anchor during the upcoming legislative debate and as the basis for assessing
legislative proposals. Our principles are about restoring the rule of law, providing a path
to earned citizenship, protecting immigrant and American workers alike, reuniting
families, respecting due process, and helping newcomers become new Americans while
helping the communities in which they settle. This combination enacted together will
work to bring immigrants out of the shadows and under a realistic regulatory regime. An
effectively reformed immigration system will serve national interests by supporting economic
growth, social mobility, strong families, labor rights, civil rights, political rights, and law and

On one particular component the future flow of needed workers we want to make our
position clear. The undersigned organizations oppose new guest worker programs.

Instead, we support new worker visas with an earned path to citizenship. Work-and-return
guest worker programs that tie workers to individual employers and compel workers to leave
the country when their short-term visa expires simply will not work. When the immigration
status of workers and their right to stay in the country depends on an employer, the resulting
imbalance of power inevitably fosters exploitation. This, in turn, undercuts the wages and
working conditions of native-born and immigrant low-wage workers alike. What we do
support is a break the mold new worker visa program, one that guarantees needed
immigrant workers renewable long-term visas, full labor rights, the right to change jobs,
wage protections, the right to join a union, the right to be with close family members, the
protection of constitutional rights, and the realistic option of a path to earned citizenship.
We also believe that workable comprehensive immigration reform must serve the interests
of native-born workers. In addition to eliminating the perverse effects of our broken
immigration system on native-born workers, we need to address the needs of unemployed or
underemployed American workers by strengthening the reach and effectiveness of job
programs and anti-discrimination measures in order to improve skills training and access to

Finally, let us never forget that the immigration reform debate is about real people.
Undocumented immigrants live in our communities, have loving families, work hard, pay
taxes, and believe deeply in the American Dream. They bus tables, clean buildings, cook
food, care for children, tend gardens, tend to the elderly, construct houses, clean hotel
rooms, pick crops, produce food, and so much more. They have voted with their feet to be
here. Many have risked their lives in the process of getting here. And far too many have
died horrible deaths in the desert seeking only a better life for their families.

Immigrant workers and families want to be here with legal immigration status.

Requirements that include paying a fine, studying English, and going to the back of the line
are not a problem as long as the process is workable and there is a line for earned citizenship
to get into. And that line cannot keep people in legal limbo or create huge backlogs that
would deter people from coming forward or from becoming new Americans. Immigrants in
the U.S. want to be accepted and recognized for their contributions, and are fully prepared
to assume both the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. The signs in last year's marches
said it so well and so powerfully: We Are America.

But this debate is also about who we are. As a nation, we are at our best when we overcome
us vs. them fears to forge unity out of our diversity. As a nation we are at our best when
we live up to the ideals of opportunity for all, equal treatment under the law, and basic
fairness. As a nation, it is time to solve this problem with a smart and practical
comprehensive immigration reform bill that will make our country stronger, safer, and

February 2007

Immigration is a defining feature of America’s history and of America’s future. Unfortunately, America’s current immigration
system is broken. Instead of legal channels, legal immigration, and orderly, screened entry, the immigration system has
fostered a black market characterized by a ballooning undocumented immigrant population, widespread use of fake
documents, increasingly violent smuggling cartels, and widespread exploitation of undocumented workers. The American
people are frustrated with their leaders on this issue and hunger for a solution that will work. They want neither open borders,
nor closed borders, they want smart borders. The time has come for the President and Congress to work together to enact
comprehensive legislation that rewards work, reunites families, restores the rule of law, reinforces our nation’s security,
respects the rights of U.S.-born and immigrant workers, and redeems the American Dream.

1) Reform Must Be Comprehensive: The proposal must simultaneously deal effectively with 1) undocumented
immigrants working and living in the United States; 2) the future flow of workers and close family members; 3) the
need for tailored, targeted, effective enforcement of more realistic policies; and 4) support for the successful
integration of newcomers in the communities where they settle; 5) protection of fundamental civil and human rights
in the immigration process.

2) Provide a Path to Citizenship: Opportunities should be provided for undocumented immigrants currently living in
the U.S. to receive work permits and travel permission and access educational opportunities once they undergo
background and security checks. Those who want to settle in the United States should be eligible for permanent
residence and citizenship.

3) Protect Workers: To replace the deadly, chaotic, and illegal flow of workers to jobs, there need to be wider legal
channels so needed workers can be admitted legally to fill available jobs. To avoid the exploitation and abuses of
flawed guestworkers programs, the nation needs a “break-the-mold” worker visa program that adequately protects the
wages and working conditions of U.S. and immigrant workers. It should also allow workers to change jobs,
meaningfully enforce both the program’s rules and existing labor laws, protect law-abiding employers from
unscrupulous competitors, and provide a path to permanent status.

4) Reunite Families: Immigration reform will not succeed if public policy does not recognize one of the main factors
driving migration as well as one of America’s most cherished values: family unity. Restrictive laws and bureaucratic
delays too often undermine this cornerstone of our legal immigration system. Those waiting in line should have their
admission expedited, and those admitted on work visas should be able to keep their nuclear families intact.

5) Restore the Rule of Law and Enhance Security: Enforcement only works when the law is realistic and
enforceable. This can best be achieved by a comprehensive overhaul that combines reform – a path to permanent
status for immigrants here and wider legal channels for those coming in the future – with effective enforcement. A
smart enforcement regime should include smart inspections and screening practices, fair proceedings, efficient
processing, as well as strategies that crack down on criminal smugglers, get tough with lawbreaking employers, and
reduce illegality. Such a system will better enable the nation to know who is already here and who is coming in the
future, and bring our system into line with our tradition as a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws.

6) Promote Citizenship and Civic Participation and Help Local Communities: Immigration to America works
because newcomers are encouraged to become new Americans. It is time to renew our nation’s commitment to the
full integration of newcomers by providing adult immigrants with quality English instruction, promoting and
preparing them for citizenship, and providing them with opportunities to move up the economic ladder. The system
should also offer support to local communities working to welcome newcomers.

7) Protect and Advance Civil and Human Rights: We need immigration reform that restores basic civil liberties and
human rights, protects our core American values of fairness and justice, and defends the due process rights of

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