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3/22: LULAC Statement on STRIVE Act
Released 27 March 2007  By League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)

LULAC Praises New Legislation for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

New Bipartisan STRIVE Act Jumpstarts Action in Congress

March 22, 2007

Washington, DC - Today, The League of United Latin American Citizens praised action in Congress on comprehensive immigration reform. Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and Representative Jeff Flake (R-AZ) introduced bipartisan comprehensive legislation on Thursday that will replace an immigration system that is unregulated, chaotic, and abusive with one that is secure, controlled and fair.

Though LULAC will be studying the details of this specific legislation, it appears the Gutierrez-Flake bill, known as the STRIVE Act (Security Through Regularized Immigration and Vibrant Economy) includes the principles and elements we believe are needed to fix our broken immigration system. These principles include 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.

“We welcome the STRIVE Act because it moves us in the direction of our goal: to get our Federal government to act decisively to get comprehensive immigration reform done this year, to get it done right, and to make it work on the ground once it is implemented,” said LULAC National President Rosa Rosales. “We will be studying the details of the proposal in the coming days because the details matter. We want comprehensive immigration reform this year, but not just any bill that calls itself comprehensive will do. It must be workable if it is to be the solution we as a nation need and want,” continued Rosales. “It will take leaders in both parties to make comprehensive immigration reform work, and Reps. Gutierrez and Flake are showing a way forward. If we work together in a bipartisan fashion like these two Congressmen, America will finally have an immigration system that serves our national interests through increased security, an improved economy and a renewal of the values that define our nation.”

Virtually every public opinion poll shows that Americans are impatient for Federal action to solve the immigration problem once and for all. A recent Gallup/USA Today poll released just last week shows that when confronted with a series of policy choices, 59% of all Americans prefer a comprehensive solution with an earned path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

“We are excited that Congress is listening and that we have real action on Capitol Hill. The American public is tired of partisan posturing and finger pointing. We want our leaders to lead and to solve tough problems on a bipartisan basis. The STRIVE Act is an important first step for making our immigration system more humane while addressing border security, economic security, global competitiveness, and reestablishing the rule of law,” said Rosales.

“For too long the pleas from state and local governments and the pain and suffering of immigrant families and communities grappling with this issue have gone unanswered. We pledge to pressure our representatives in Congress to act now to find a workable solution. Immigrant workers and families are desperate for real reform and so are hard working taxpayers and responsible employers who want a legal workforce and American workers who want a level playing field,” continued Rosales.

LULAC is working in coordination with the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CCIR), a national campaign to get legislation enacted this year. The unprecedented campaign will bring together faith-based and labor organizations, state, local, and national advocates, and immigrant families and workers themselves to remind our elected representatives in Washington that passing comprehensive immigration reform this year is a priority, no matter what state or congressional district they represent.

LULAC cited that the experience of the last twenty or so years shows that enforcement-only approaches to immigration reform will not work. There are an estimated 12 million people who are working and living in this country without papers and deportation would be an extreme and unworkable alternative. Comprehensive immigration reform legislation along the lines of the Gutierrez-Flake proposal offers a realistic way of dealing with the 12 million undocumented immigrants who are currently living and working in this country. It gives families the opportunity to be united with immigrant family members in a timely manner. At the same time, this legislation makes the changes needed to satisfy the needs of our economy for workers and effectively focus scarce enforcement resources on fighting genuine threats to our country.

“We should never forget, the immigration reform debate is about real people,” said LULAC Executive Director Brent Wilkes. “Undocumented immigrants live in our communities, have loving families, work hard, pay taxes, and believe deeply in the American Dream. They pick your food, bus tables, clean buildings, care for your children, tend gardens, tend to the elderly, construct houses, clean hotel rooms and so much more. Many have risked their lives in the process of getting here or are caught in interminable processing and visa backlogs. And far too many have died horrible deaths in the desert and exploitation seeking only a better life for their families. 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,” concluded Wilkes.

The League of United Latin American Citizens, the oldest and largest Hispanic membership organization in the country, advances the economic conditions, educational attainment, political influence, health and civil rights of Hispanic Americans through community-based programs operating at more than 700 LULAC councils nationwide.

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