National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America


House STRIVEs to Revive Immigration Reform Debate

September 06, 2007

Washington, DCToday, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law holds a hearing on the STRIVE Act, bipartisan immigration reform legislation introduced earlier this year by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL).  The following is a statement by Angela Kelley, Deputy Director of the National Immigration Forum, a pro-immigrant advocacy organization in Washington. 

When the bitter Senate immigration reform debate collapsed in a Republican-led filibuster earlier this summer, we wondered whether the House would take any action at all or whether Democratic leaders were just as happy to see the issue shelved.  The House Immigration Subcommittee’s hearing on immigration reform makes us hopeful that some politicians understand that realistic immigration reform is still a priority.  In contrast to the way fear of immigrants is being used as a partisan bludgeon by Republican leaders, responsible Members of Congress are continuing to engage in a constructive debate about practical immigration solutions. 

The reality is too hard to ignore.  One in 20 U.S. workers already here are unauthorized to work.  Our educated, aging, and, increasingly, retiring workforce requires a functioning legal immigration system if our economy is to grow.  Already, we are seeing signs that tight labor markets are making off-shoring more attractive to some industries, especially in agriculture.

The STRIVE Act provides an excellent framework for reform, in many ways more streamlined and workable than what the Senate considered.  Its enforcement provisions at the border and in the workplace are strict, but are sensibly combined with reforms that will put the overall immigration process on a legal footing.  It includes a strenuous but relatively straight-forward process for immigrants to earn legal status, which remains the only practical approach to addressing the presence of 12 million immigrants living here illegally.  Unlike the simple-minded, sound tough, enforcement-only approaches embraced by many in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail, this reform has a chance of actually working and giving us more control over immigration.

Even if a broad measure like STRIVE proves too difficult to pass, many of its provisions deserve consideration as stand-alone reforms we can achieve this year.  AgJOBS would help stabilize the agricultural labor force and reduce our dependence on foreign food sources.  The DREAM Act for undocumented children is a commonsense investment in America’s future workers, leaders, and taxpayers.

We applaud the Judiciary Committee, especially Chair John Conyers (D-MI), Immigration Subcommittee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), for keeping solutions to immigration in the public eye.


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