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ACLU Statement Denouncing Republican Task Force Bill on Illegal Immigration
For IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 10, 1994
Statement by Gary Stern, Legislative Counsel
and Lucas Guttentag, Director, National Immigrants' Rights Project
"The Republican Task Force proposal to revise the laws governing
illegal immigration is a cynical and calculating attempt by members of
Congress who wish to exploit anti-immigrant bigotry.
"The underlying premise of this omnibus bill, that abuse of our
immigration laws is widespread and responsible for a host of social and
economic woes, is simply false. The premise dramatically exaggerates the
extent of illegal immigration and scapegoats undocumented -- as well as
documented -- immigrants for the problems and challenges that face this
nation. The truth is that a tiny percentage of the total population of
the United States is comprised of undocumented persons, according to the
Census Bureau. And only 8 percent of the American population is
foreign-born, as compared to 14 percent in 1910.
"In light of the Clinton Administration's announcement last week
proposing new steps to address immigration issues, the bill introduced
today is not only unsound and misguided, but unnecessary. While the ACLU
reserves judgment on certain aspects of the Administration's plan, we
applaud its attempts at reform. In particular, it recognizes the need for
an independent review commission to investigate charges of abuse by
border patrol agents.
"True immigration reform would address inefficiencies and critical
understaffing at the INS -- problems that have led to a backlog of
approximately 300,000 asylum applications -- rather than imposing
measures to deprive legitimate refugees of the right to due process and to
speedy decisions on their cases. The legal standards currently in place
are adequate to deal with frivolous cases if INS were sufficiently
staffed and well managed.
"The Republican Task Force proposal presumes that undocumented
immigrants are a drain on the economy even though the body of research
indicates that immigrants, both documented and undocumented, contribute
to the economy and are an asset rather than a burden. Immigrants pay more
in taxes than they receive in public benefits and services. True reform
would address the root causes of immigration and the real problems facing
our cities, our schools and our economy."
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