Rights Working Group Praises Senate Group for Recognizing Need for Path to Citizenship and Racial Profiling Protections; Concern Expressed About Calls for Increased Border Security

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Keith Rushing, Communications Director, krushing@rightsworkinggroup, (p) 202.591.3305, (c) 202.557.4291

January 28, 2013, Washington, D.C. -- Rights Working Group (RWG) applauds the bi-partisan senators’ decision to release principles for immigration reform that recognize the need to establish a pathway to citizenship for the millions of undocumented migrants that would bring them out of the shadows and into the fabric of society. 

RWG, a coalition of more than 350 human rights organizations, was also pleased to see the senators’ acknowledgement of the urgent need to strengthen prohibitions against racial profiling and address the “inappropriate use of force” that has affected communities targeted by immigration and border enforcement. 

However, any immigration reform effort must uphold our Constitution and protect due process for all people living in the U.S.

Specifically:

• A path to citizenship must not be so expensive and onerous that it leaves millions in limbo for lengthy periods of time, subject to an ever moving metric of “border security.” Congress must not be held hostage by the ever-moving goal posts of  “border security” in order to legalize millions of migrants;

• Legalization must not be done at the expense of border communities, who have endured years of border security “enhancements” including more agents, drones, military presence and walls.  Any immigration reform bill must recognize that the past 10 years have seen unprecedented and overwhelming increases in the number of border patrol agents, border wall construction, unmanned aerial vehicles and border militarization;

• Any initiative to enhance the verification of those legally entitled to work in the United States must not create a national identification card or system that infringes on the privacy rights of the hundreds of millions of eligible workers in the United States or could encourage racial profiling and discrimination.

• The path to citizenship should be as inclusive as possible, addressing due process concerns of those who have been labeled “criminal aliens” for minor violations or for charges related to their immigration status.  Judicial discretion should be restored to enable judges to consider the individual circumstances of each case, including family ties and work history.  

“Rights Working Group welcomes this first step towards legislating a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people in the United States,”  said Margaret Huang, Executive Director of the Rights Working Group.  “We commend the group of Senators for acknowledging the need for racial profiling protections; these are particularly important given the role of state and local law enforcement agencies in current immigration enforcement programs and the massive increase in the number of border patrol agents operating on the border and in the interior of U.S.”

 Rights Working Group (RWG) formed in the aftermath of September 11th to promote and protect the human rights of all people in the United States. A coalition of more than 350 local, state and national organizations, RWG works collaboratively to advocate for the civil liberties and human rights of everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, citizenship or immigration status.

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