Law Enforcement, Faith, CHC Leaders React to President’s Speech

 LAS VEGAS— Prospects for broad, commonsense immigration reform in 2013 have improved with the attention of the nation’s political leaders Monday and today. On Monday, a bipartisan group of senators released a framework for broad immigration reform that includes a conditional path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. This afternoon, President Obama laid out similar proposals to guide a new immigration process and reiterated his emphasis on a roadmap to earned citizenship over time. 

Faith, law enforcement and advocacy leaders who attended the president’s speech are applauding the momentum for a better immigration process at the highest levels of government. Having forged a new consensus on immigrants and America, they will keep the pressure on for broad reform from Congress this year.

Ali Noorani, Executive Director, National Immigration Forum:
“The president has affirmed and built the momentum for immigration reform that bipartisan leaders in the Senate rallied behind on Monday. We are pleased that political leaders in both parties are finally hearing the calls of Americans across the political spectrum who want a better immigration process now, for the good of our families, our communities and our economy.”

Mark Shurtleff, Member of the Board of Directors of the National Immigration Forum and Republican Former Attorney General of Utah:
“Today President Obama laid out his vision for broad immigration reform. It was an honor to be there with him to share this historic moment and tell him that those who hold a Bible, wear a badge or own a business stand ready to encourage Democrats and Republicans in Congress to pass commonsense immigration reform.”

Dr. Warren Stewart, Senior Pastor at First Institutional Baptist Church in Phoenix and Board Chair of the National Immigration Forum:
“This is an awesome day for justice. The leader of the free world is leading the charge to free millions of our brothers and sisters in America with commonsense immigration reform which offers a roadmap to citizenship. Thank God, delay is not denial for our nation’s immigrants.”

Ian Danley, Youth Program Director, Neighborhood Ministries, Phoenix
“Today was an encouraging day for those of us inArizona who live with the consequences of a broken immigration system every day. To see our president and members of Congress call for commonsense immigration reform in the same week, reform that creates a roadmap to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans, fills us with hope.”

Congressman Rubén Hinojosa (TX-15), Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC): “There is no doubt, as President Obama pointed out, that the current immigration system is failing our country. We must find workable solutions for the 11 million undocumented and for the sake of our recovering economy. We applaud the president’s leadership and are glad he is working toward delivering on his campaign promise. Immigration reform started as a bipartisan issue and with President Obama’s leadership and positive reception of the Senate principles, we are confident that it will pass as a bipartisan bill. When immigrants are permitted to invest and fully contribute inAmerica, they create American jobs and start American businesses. By extending the opportunity to our immigrant community to earn citizenship, we all get a little closer to the American dream.”

First Vice Chair Ben Ray Luján (NM-03): “Today inNevada, President Obama reiterated his commitment to comprehensive immigration reform, making it his top policy priority.  Comprehensive reform that is fair, tough, and practical will strengthen our economy, keep our country safe, and reflect the contributions immigrants make to our communities every day.  There is a growing coalition – from the high tech sector to law enforcement, from the agricultural sector to the faith community – that is calling for action.  Americans are coming together on this issue and it is time for Congress to come together to act.  There is no excuse for delay.”

Second Vice Chair Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38): “I applaud President Obama for taking the case for comprehensive immigration reform directly to the American people today. Not only is our immigration system broken, but our immigration policy fails to build on our country’s great tradition of diversity, equality and fairness. It is hugely important that President Obama is making this important issue his top legislative priority. Now it’s time for Congress to act.

“We can’t wait to find a way to bring more than 11 million undocumented people out of the shadows and on the path to earned legalization, and I am encouraged by recent bipartisan efforts in the House and the Senate to develop frameworks for reform.  I believe we can truly achieve meaningful immigration reform if members of Congress work together. ”

Congressman Xavier Becerra (CA-34), Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus:“In the twenty years that I’ve served in the U.S. House of Representatives, the landscape for reforming our long-broken immigration system has never been as promising as it is today. President Obama’s principles for immigration reform complement the work that is being done in Congress.

“As the details of a reform package become clearer over the next weeks, the one necessity is that it must be done. Fixing our broken immigration system is imperative for our country, our economy, and most importantly our families. I look forward to working with President Obama, the U.S. Senate, and my colleagues in the House of Representatives to get the job done on behalf of the American people.”

Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (IL-04), CHC Immigration Task Force Chair:  The speech was the best pitch for immigration reform I have heard in a long, long time.  I am excited and very pleased that the President is making immigration reform his number one priority.  The President clearly sees comprehensive immigration reform as an attainable goal and I agree.

There is a moral urgency to keep families together, stop the deportations, and allow immigrants to fully integrate into American society.  Every day we delay action is another 1,000 immigrants deported, hundreds of parents ofU.S.citizens deported, and hundreds of thousands of young immigrants unable to fully achieve their dreams.

Enough talk from Congress.  We have talked about immigration reform for a decade or more; now is the time for lawmakers in both parties to come out of the shadows and work with the President in a bipartisan way to get something done.

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“We are thrilled that the president is using his moral and political leadership to push for inclusive, comprehensive immigration reform, and we’re very glad that his vision for reform includes provisions for same-sex binational couples and a direct pathway to citizenship,” said Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez, National Field Director for GetEQUAL. “As a beneficiary of DACA, I know firsthand how one’s life is deeply changed by courageous leadership. However, we need President Obama to show real and tangible leadership on immigration issues, and to immediately call for a moratorium on deportations. Hundreds of thousands of LGBT immigrants like myself would benefit from that call in enormous ways while we want for Congress to act,” continued Sousa-Rodriguez.

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“Today’s immigration speech by President Obama, coming on the heels of yesterday’s announcement of bipartisan agreement on reform principles by the Senate ‘Gang of Eight,’ shows that there is broad support to modernize our immigration system in a way that helps growour economy and attract the world’s most talented and hardest-working. It’s time to move from politics to policy by passing a bipartisan bill that brings an immigration system formed in the 1960s into a 21st century global economy. We commend the President and the bipartisan group of Senators for the leadership they are showing to get us there.”

“I felt privileged and amazed to be on stage with farmworkers and families, all fighting for our communities,” said Sergio Martinez, a DREAM youth and AIR volunteer organizer. “The President was clear about the great moral urgency for immigration reform, and we thank him for moving the country forward.  However, we still need to ensure that family members who’ve been separated or deported are able to be reunited.”

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NEA President Dennis Van Roekel:

“On behalf of the more than 3 million members of NEA, we welcome President Barack Obama’s vision to continue moving comprehensive immigration reform forward. As educators, we have witnessed for far too long the impact that the current immigration system has had on our students, their families, and our communities. We join the growing chorus of voices calling on lawmakers to create a common-sense immigration process for aspiring Americans, one that includes a roadmap for new Americans to become citizens.

“We are pleased that the vision that President Obama outlined reflects our values and our rich tradition of embracing people who move to make life better for themselves and their families. We see them every day in our classrooms, schools, and our communities. They are our students, friends, and our neighbors. They move to put food on the table, to provide for their families, or for the promise of freedom and opportunity in this country. And we are all better for having hardworking new immigrants as contributing members of our communities.

“The president’s proposal builds on the extraordinary success of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and incorporates DREAMERS into the mainstream of life so that this country can continue to reap the benefits of their hard work, ingenuity, and achievements. And we welcome the administration’s commitment to support the value of keeping families together. We agree that efficient, fair, and effective avenues for legal, family-based immigration are vital to keepingAmericastrong. Reuniting families kept apart by current arcane and bureaucratic immigration laws will provide significant benefit to children, who will be able to receive the full support and care provided by unified families.

“For new American immigrants waiting in the shadows of society, there is no daylight without Congressional and White House action. As a nation of immigrants, how we treat new immigrants reflects our commitment to the values that define us.

“We urge Congress to move swiftly and on a bipartisan fashion on this important issue. We thank President Obama for his leadership on this important issue and we look forward to working with him and his administration on creating a common-sense immigration process for aspiring citizens.”


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