“We are glad to see the Republican leadership finally moving immigration reform into their agenda for 2014. It’s a positive step forward and one that would not be occurring without the constant pressure of our families who have made their voices heard every day through calls, meetings and even civil disobedience.
“However, principles are not enough — we are drowning in principles and speeches. We need real action. The failure of GOP leadership over the last year has led to the separation of hundreds of thousands of American immigrant families — that means more of our children growing up in despair and without a parent. This is not an accident, but a shameful crisis manufactured by a broken immigration system that Republicans in the House have failed to address — despite action by the Senate last year.
“We welcome the movement, but these principles fall far short of our families’ aspirations. Citizenship must be a core principle of any immigration reform because it is who we are as a nation. The Republican principles would in effect create a permanent underclass without the full access and benefits of American society.
“The principles are more evidence that Republicans seem to not understand the mass heartbreak they cause within our communities. But there’s something they should understand: Inaction on immigration is not viable, if their party is to survive. So, in the coming months, we will once again mobilize to reward those who stand with our community and the FIRM principles, and punish those who stand by while their policies separate mother from child.”The era of breaking communities apart is over. This is about family and equality, and in a sense about the survival of the American dream itself. We will not stop until there is justice for our families, and we will continue to fight until we get there.”
Here are the FIRM principles:
The Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) believes that immigration reform that works for our families and the nation MUST:
Provide a Path to Citizenship for ALL Members of Our Communities - Our immigration policy needs to be consistent with reality. Most immigrant families are encouraged to come to the United States by economic forces they do not control. Immigrants bring prosperity to this country, yet many are kept in legal limbo despite their deep roots and contributions.Creating a path to citizenship for undocumented members of our communities is a crucial component of successful immigration reform and would benefit immigrants and their families and the U.S.-born by, among other effects, raising the floor for all workers and providing all with equal labor protections. In addition, citizenship for the current undocumented would result in dramatic economic benefits for the entire country.
Reunite ALL Families and Reduce Immigration Backlogs -The separation of families is not only morally unacceptable, immigration reform cannot be successful until we synchronize public policy with one of the main factors driving migration: family unity for all families, including LGBT families. Currently, families are divided by visa waiting periods and processing delays that can last decades. Immigration reform must strengthen the family immigration system and keep families together by increasing the number of visas available both overall and within each family category.
Provide Opportunities for Safe Future Migration and Maintaining Worker Protections - We need a “break-the-mold” program that creates a legal and safe alternative for migrants, facilitate and enforce equal rights for all workers, and minimize the opportunities for abuse by unscrupulous employers and others.
Establish Border Policy that Respects Border and Immigrant Communities - Reforming our immigration laws doesn’t mean we need to waste more taxpayer money on enforcement. Unauthorized border crossings have reached historic lows, yet the cost of border and other immigration enforcement is an historic high, after a decade of massive growth in border enforcement funding. Immigration reform must establish border principles that respect border and immigrant communities.
Respect the Safety and Security of All in Immigration Enforcement - Now more than ever, fair enforcement policies are key to rebuilding trust among immigrant communities and protecting the security of everyone. The increased use of immigration enforcement programs that involve local law enforcement such as Secure Communities and 287(g) has been ineffective and harmful to immigrant communities. These programs have been proven to undermine trust between local police and the communities they serve, making us all less safe. Congress must reaffirm that immigration enforcement is the responsibility of federal immigration enforcement officials, not local police or officials.
Restore Fundamental Due Process and Civil Rights of Immigrants - We must uphold American values by ensuring that all people, no matter where they come from, are afforded fundamental rights, including the right to a fair day in court before being separated from family and community and deprived of liberty and the right to be free from inhumane conditions of confinement. To reduce the cost of detention imposed on taxpayers and to ensure humane and safe treatment for all individuals, immigration laws must ensure that detention is used only as a last resort.
Recognize Immigrants’ Full Humanity – Immigration reform must recognize the essential role of immigrants to the US, and the importance of providing tools and pathways for immigrants to integrate into social, economic and civil fabric of American life. Immigrants are more than just workers. Immigrants are neighbors, family members, students, members of our society, and an essential part of the future of the United States. Our immigration policies should provide immigrants withopportunities for full integration into US society, including opportunities to learn English, undertake workforce training, naturalize, lead prosperous lives, engage in cultural expression, and receive equitable access to needed services, including healthcare, higher education, and housing.