Since 1974, AALDEF has represented Asian immigrant families and workers of all backgrounds. We believe that U.S. immigration laws must close the ever-widening gap in substantive and procedural rights between immigrant Americans and U.S.-born Americans, respect the rights of all workers, and maintain family reunification as a core value. We urge members of Congress to adhere to human rights principles in guiding the current debate on comprehensive immigration reform.
AALDEF adopts the following policy recommendations to promote fair and humane immigration policies:
Establish a Fair Process for Adjustment of Status
- Create an immediate pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, without the prerequisite of harsh enforcement measures that have already fractured families, burdened communities, and misallocated valuable resources.
- Update and revive Adjustment of Status programs for longtime residents by lifting statutory bars to their eligibility.
Enforce Rights and Strengthen Protections for All Workers
- Protect the rights of all workers by enforcing labor and employment laws that guarantee minimum wage, overtime pay, and other protections. Regularly raising the minimum wage tied to the consumer price index would improve the wages and working conditions for all Americans.
- Recognize the rights of all workers to organize without fear of retaliation by restoring the same remedies and relief for immigrant and U.S.-born Americans.
- Reallocate funds from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) budget for Worksite Enforcement Spending to the Department of Labor enforcement budget.
- Stop penalizing workers by deputizing employers as immigration enforcers. Mechanisms like E-Verify and Employer Sanctions promote an underground economy of unscrupulous employers who exploit immigrant workers, therefore weakening the ability of all workers to exercise their rights and earn a living wage. These mechanisms must be repealed.
- Ensure that all temporary immigrant workers, from specialty to temporary and seasonal laborers, have a path to citizenship. Temporary immigrant workers should have maximum visa portability, giving them the means to change employers. Furthermore, recruiters and foreign labor recruiters must be barred from shifting fees and costs to temporary workers, plunging them into debt and rendering them vulnerable to human trafficking, involuntary servitude, and debt bondage.
- Guarantee provisions for humanitarian relief, including for victims of human trafficking, domestic violence, and other violent crimes.
Preserve Family Reunification
- Process additional visas immediately to clear the entire backlog that has prevented families, including same-sex couples, from reuniting with their loved ones for years, or even decades.
- Ensure that provisions on “DREAMers” include all individuals who moved to the United States as children, regardless of their current age, and guarantee a pathway to citizenship for their parents so that families will not be torn apart any further.
- Exercise more generous and favorable “prosecutorial discretion” to keep families together in the United States.
Restore Due Process to End Discriminatory and Inhumane Practices
- Provide competent legal representation to indigent detainees during removal proceedings and appeals.
- Restore wider discretion for immigration judges in considering the removal and deportation of immigrants.
- Eliminate the Secure Communities Program, 287(g), and other policies that allow for state and local enforcement of federal immigration laws. These programs promote racial profiling and decrease public safety of all Americans.
- Ensure that immigrants have the same access as U.S.-born Americans to benefits such as health care, tax credits, and other tax relief.
Bipartisan support for change at this moment makes just and humane comprehensive immigration reform possible. AALDEF’s approach in adhering to human rights principles moves our laws closer to ensuring that the rights of all Americans, immigrant and U.S.-born, are protected.