ACTION ALERT - Advocacy for Immigration Reform
- Date: July 1, 2004
To: Interested Immigration Advocates
From: National Immigration Forum
Tel: (202) 383-5984.
Immigration Reform in the 108th Congress
On May 4th, Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Representatives Robert Menendez
(D-NJ) and Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) introduced the Safe, Orderly, Legal Visas
and Enforcement (SOLVE) Act (S. 2381/H.R. 2381)—a ground-breaking immigration
reform bill. While this was a momentous occasion in the struggle towards
comprehensive immigration reform, it also presents a challenge in terms of
maintaining the work and visibility on other legislative priorities, particularly on
the DREAM Act and AgJOBS. We realize that this has created some confusion among
organizations that are working on DREAM and AgJOBS. Yet, in order to win in
the short- and long-term, we must keep the momentum going on these bills while
preparing the groundwork towards comprehensive immigration reform.
Why are we supporting SOLVE?
Congressional leaders from both political parties—in the House and Senate—
have introduced immigration bills aimed at reforming our broken system. These
members are to be commended for their work. However, these proposals do not
include all the elements of reform that are needed to fix our immigration
system. S. 1461/H.R. 2899, introduced by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and
Representatives Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ), addresses many of the reforms
that are needed, but lacks strong worker protections and fails to ensure family
unity. S. 2010, introduced by Senators Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Tom Daschle
(D-SD), addresses all three necessary components but also lacks sufficient worker
protections, and fails to permanently reform our work-based visa system. In
contrast, the SOLVE Act squarely addresses the three components of
comprehensive immigration reform: legalization, family reunification, and future
migration. It also goes the furthest of all proposals towards protecting workers’
rights and reducing family backlogs.
We must demonstrate broad support for the reforms contained in SOLVE.
Otherwise, as the debate on immigration reform moves forward, it will evolve into a
compromise between only the other incomplete immigration reform bills
introduced. The SOLVE bill will not be part of the debate unless it is supported
broadly by at least the Democrats in both chambers. Obtaining a lot of
co-sponsors on SOLVE this year will enable advocates to be in a better position to
negotiate for more of what we want in an eventual immigration reform package, in
the next Congress.
Even though the SOLVE Act is a Democratic bill, advocates cannot take it for
granted that Democrats will support the bill. We still need to reach out to
Democrats for their sponsorship. Furthermore, both the House and the Senate
are currently controlled by Republicans. Critical reform cannot be enacted
without support from friendly Republicans. In other words, we cannot achieve
comprehensive immigration reform without bi-partisan Congressional support. This
is just the beginning. Advocates need to reach out to both parties, keeping
in mind that almost everything in a nearly evenly-divided Congress is a
Why must we push for AgJOBS and DREAM and SOLVE?
In order to win in the short- and long-term, we must ask members of Congress
to take up and vote for AgJOBS (S. 1645/H.R. 3142) and DREAM (S. 1545/H.R.
1684) this year while educating them on why the SOLVE Act is the right recipe for
comprehensive immigration reform.
Both AgJOBS and DREAM provide relief for specific deserving groups, enjoy
bi-partisan support, and are ripe for enactment. Comprehensive immigration
reform will take time to get support and be debated and hopefully enacted.
Therefore, passing AgJOBS and DREAM is not just doable but is also the most
What can we do now? Keep the pressure on AgJOBS and DREAM; build support for
*All contact info below
· Contact your Congressional delegation during recess (June 27th-July
5th and July 25th-September 6th). Your members of Congress will most likely be
in their home districts during these periods. Ask for their support on
AgJOBS, DREAM, and the SOLVE Act. Even while we are pushing for enactment of the
two narrower bills (AgJOBS and DREAM), extolling the merits of SOLVE is crucial
(and complementary) groundwork. Both Republicans and Democrats should be
encouraged to support the bills—either as an official co-sponsor or in concept
(as a fallback position).
· Write thank you letters to current sponsors of AgJOBS and DREAM.
Thank them and ask them to do what they can to bring the bills up for a vote this
· Reach out to those who are not co-sponsors and ask them to sign on.
Even if you have asked before, do it again and leave the door open for
· Contact the White House. Let the President and his staff know that
we want good policy not just politics—ask them to support the DREAM Act and the
AgJOBS bill now.
How can we connect?
Mark your calendars:
ü Thursday, July 8th 1 p.m. (Eastern Time) -- a nationwide call on
strategic communications and persuasive immigration messages, based on the results
of new public opinion research conducted for the Forum by pollster Celinda
Lake. To get on the call dial 801-983-4013.
ü Thursday, July 15th 2 p.m. -- a nationwide call to discuss the state
of play on immigration legislation leading into the 2004 elections. Call-in
In addition, the Forum is working on getting materials out to the field that
will help us talk about these issues with a unified voice. We are developing “
toolkits” on the top federal immigration bills and working with other
organizations, campaigns, and networks so that our voices can be amplified and our
Where can I get more information?
To contact your elected officials:
Information on how to contact your members of Congress can be found at:
www.house.gov and www.senate.gov, or call the Capitol Hill switchboard at
To send letters/contact the White House visit:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/ or call the White House Comment Line at 202.456.1111.
Communicate quickly and easily to your members of Congress and the White
House through the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s web site.
For legislative information:
To find out if your senators and representative are co-sponsors of
legislation visit http://thomas.loc.gov and search for the bills using their numbers.
You can find a list of co-sponsors under “bill status.”
For more on the various immigration reform plans introduced in Congress,
visit the National Immigration Forum’s website.
For more SOLVE Act materials, visit the websites of the National Council of
La Raza and the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium.
For more information on AgJOBS, visit the Farmworker Justice Fund web site.
For more on the DREAM Act, visit the United We Dream and National Council of
La Raza web sites.
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