The Honorable George W. Bush
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
As you well know, our immigration system is in crisis, and we need to find a thoughtful and effective solution that combines a number of reforms. A comprehensive reform to our immigration laws must have, as essential ingredients, a strengthening of our borders, greater cross-cooperation with our neighbors, strict but fair enforcement of our laws, federal assistance to our state and local governments, strict penalties for those who exploit undocumented workers, and a path to earned legal status for those who are here, working hard, paying taxes, respecting the law, and willing to meet a high bar.
Along with these changes, it is imperative that we repair those broken portions of our immigration system that irrevocably damage families and force citizens and lawful immigrants to live apart from their spouses and children overseas. It is why last year I introduced an amendment during consideration of the immigration reform bill that would have taken steps to protect the sanctity of families. Our American values demand no less.
Therefore, I was extremely disappointed to learn that according to recent reports, your Administration is entertaining an immigration reform proposal that not only fails to help immigrant families, but would dramatically worsen the situation for the families of hundreds of thousands of United States citizens and lawful immigrants throughout our country. According to reports, your proposal would dramatically scale back the existing family visa system. For example, the reports indicate that your proposal would eliminate several of the existing family preference categories, a change that would make it impossible for U.S. citizens to sponsor many of their relatives for green cards. The proposal reportedly would also place caps and waiting periods on the parents of U.S. citizens applying for green cards, force all applicants who have been waiting in a family visa backlog to start again and pay a $500 fee, and create a point system that would deny visas to family members based on their schooling and skill levels. While we need to attract skilled workers to this country, we should not do so at the expense of our families and communities.
If these reports are accurate, your proposal would tear families apart and exact a lasting toll on the lives of citizens and lawful immigrants in this country. Your proposal would separate husbands from wives, and parents from children. Parents would be denied the opportunity to play an active role in raising their own children, and children would grow up not knowing one of their parents. These circumstances play out every day under the existing law, and your proposal would only make matters far worse.
Separating these families is an affront to our nation's rich immigrant heritage and inconsistent with our principles which value the sanctity of families. I call on you to reconsider and abandon any provisions from your proposal that tear families apart and encourage you to pursue reforms that will unite the families of those who have played by the rules in pursuing the American dream.
Hillary Rodham Clinton