Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA) took part today in a press conference announcing the introduction of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 (CIR ASAP), alongside Congress members of different faiths and backgrounds who support the bill to reform our broken immigration system.
"I believe that the reform of our broken immigration system is just as critically important for the long-term prosperity and security of our nation as passing healthcare reform, and we simply cannot wait for the healthcare debate to be concluded before we act," said Rep. Chu, an original co-sponsor of the bill, which was authored by Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL). "With more than 12 million immigrants currently living in the United States without legal status, millions more close family members waiting abroad to join their loved ones through the family-based immigration system, and the ongoing family separations and exploitation of undocumented workers, we all have a huge stake in passing comprehensive immigration reform legislation and with Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate, now is the time to get this done."
The press conference announcing the new bill was held at the Rayburn House Office Building and included remarks by Rep. Nydia M. Velazquez (D-NY), Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus;
Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Whip of the Congressional Black Caucus; Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus; Rep. Sylvester Reyes (D-TX), Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; and Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, among others.
"This isn't a Latino or an Asian or a white or an African American issue. Immigrants of all ethnic groups have been caught up in our flawed system," said Rep. Chu. "These are our neighbors, our relatives, who are being affected, who are having their dreams postponed, their aspirations curtailed.
"Communities of all colors and ethnic backgrounds must band together to support immigration reform," she added. "Like nearly every American citizen, all of our families were at one point immigrants to this land. We must stand in solidarity with our immigrants, whose only disadvantage is that their families arrived on these shores later than ours."
The bill would, among other things, strengthen border enforcement; create a new verification system for employers to verify prospective employees' legal status and establish new penalties for employers who hire undocumented workers, reduce the visa backlog for families and highly skilled employees; and create an earned legalization program for undocumented immigrants that would include full criminal background checks, the payment of fines and require applicants to go to the back of the line of the green card application process.